WSFA has been a stakeholder of the Alberta Game Policy Advisory Council (AGPAC) and Alberta Game Management Advisory Group (AGMAG) for many years since its inception. Past president - Reg Prostebby, as a member of WSFA volunteered to be on the Allocation Policy Review Sub-Committee (made up of 7 different talented individuals who brought a wealth of knowledge to the table). We were all asked to leave our personal agendas and affiliations at the door to create a level working field. This Outfitter Allocation Policy Review sub-committee was set up at the request of government (AEP) to collaboratively review existing policies around big game allocations and to develop recommendations for renewal.
The intent was to develop a new policy that fairly accommodates the desires of the user groups, is transparent in the process and would be implemented consistently across Wildlife Management Units (WMU’s). This sub-committee included a review of some aspects of special license draws, but was not intended as a comprehensive review of that system. All stakeholders of the sub-committee volunteered their time to be on this sub-committee. Agenda topics were supplied by AEP, and the stakeholder representatives within this sub-committee did not drive the agenda.
This dynamic group met over the last two years (2016 &17), and although consensus was never 100% on any specific topic, majority rule carried the day. Based on the groups findings, the sub-committee’s recommendations were compiled by AEP and sent to all stakeholders for their feedback and comments.
WSFA sent out an 8-question survey this past fall to our membership via a mass email utilizing their new website to get member feedback before meeting with AEP and all AGPAC stakeholders on December 5. Similar independent surveys were also conducted by ABA and AFGA. Approximately 20% of WSFA members replied to this survey. The overall weighted average of all WSFA respondents to the eight questions was 71% in favor of these recommended proposal changes. There were many, many very good comments included on each question from our membership. In discussions with ABA and AFGA at the December 5 meeting, the responses from their respective organizations were very close to those of WSFA members, and were within a few percentage points of each other after being tabulated.
All results of our survey/comments, were provided to AEP for their review. AEP is compiling all the feedback from these surveys and the December 5 meeting into a draft document. This document will then be presented to all Albertans for their input – most likely through an on-line survey of some type. Once the consultation process is complete, a final policy will make its way through the government process with potential sign-off by the Minister. Time will tell if these recommendations find their way to final approval by the Minister.
The process was long, and is only a “tip of the iceberg” with regards to other topics that could be slated for review regarding Outfitter Allocations. One of the take-a-ways that I personally got was the need for better participation by all hunters in Alberta in the annual Game Harvest Survey. This is such an important piece of information that the biologists and game managers use in determining big game harvest/tag allocations for everyone, yet only approximately 25-30% of all hunters complete this annual survey. I am sure you will be hearing more about ways to improve this statistic as it is so critical to our game management.
I would like to thank all of the individuals who participated at the sub-committee level and gave up their personal time to work together for game management in Alberta. We all learnt a lot, and continue to do so. Wildlife management is a complicated issue. Also, I will be passing on the torch to fellow Executive Board member Frank Turner, who will be representing WSFA at all future AGPAC meetings. Thank you.
Past President - WSFA