WHITEHORSE - Less than 24 hours before the start of this year’s hunting season, the Liberal government announced that all permits drawn for Finlayson caribou in the Ross River area were cancelled due to concerns about population. The Liberals did not consult with hunters or the Yukon Fish and Game Association prior to this last-minute announcement, nor have they provided any clear scientific evidence suggesting that this move was required.
“My first question is, where is the Minister? This is an important issue to Yukoners and she has gone into hiding on a key file once again,” stated Wade Istchenko, Official Opposition Environment Critic. “It is patently unfair that the Liberals waited until less than a day before hunting season to notify hunters of such a significant decision.”
The Yukon has a collaborative, science-based wildlife management system to address population concerns, and there are processes in place that allow for regulatory changes with the input of all key stakeholders. So far it appears this process has not been followed as the Liberals have not consulted hunters or the Yukon Fish and Game Association. If the government has conservation concerns then they should have sought a regulatory change through the proper process.
The Official Opposition is also seeking clarity from the government on the current rules. In the Yukon government’s release, they stated that aside from Finlayson, the laws of general application would still apply to open zones in the Ross River area. However, on August 1, the Ross River Dena Council issued a notice re-affirming that their government would be providing a fixed number of permits and that will be the only way non-Kaska hunters will be allowed to hunt in these same zones.
“The Minister’s lack of leadership has led us to a point where there is little to no clarity at all for hunters. We are now two days into the hunting season and nobody knows whether they’re allowed to hunt these open zones legally,” added Istchenko. “The mixed messages here and the silence from the Minister have created anxiety within the hunting community and it is her responsibility to clarify which policy Yukoners are ultimately supposed to follow.”
This major issue only comes a week after errors were found in the Yukon permit hunt lottery system, which the Minister has refused to comment on to date.