Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
B.C. government auctions off chance to kill a wild sheep
February 1, 2013 Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun
For bid: the smug satisfaction of shooting a wild mountain sheep ram in B.C. outside of the regular hunting season. Expected selling price: upwards of $250,000 US.
That is what the B.C. government is offering this weekend at a conservation fundraising auction during the annual convention of the Wild Sheep Foundation in Reno, Nev. Proceeds from the auction go to the province’s Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation — 75 per cent to sheep-related projects and 25 per cent to other wildlife enhancement projects.
From 2000 to 2010, the province raised almost $1.6 million from similar auctions offering special hunts for mountain sheep and Roosevelt elk, according to a trust foundation report. “It has certainly paid for itself in terms of conservation,” Andrew Wilson, director of B.C.’s wildlife branch, said in an interview from Victoria.
Money from past auctions has been used for projects such as habitat enhancement, mapping of critical range, separation of domestic sheep from wild sheep to reduce disease transmission, and relocation of sheep to bolster smaller herds.
Last year, a hunter paid a record $250,000 US for the B.C. special sheep hunt, which is part bragging rights and part altruistic desire to improve the productivity of wild sheep. Past hunts in recent years have raised closer to $130,000 to $150,000. The sheep foundation keeps 15 per cent of the winning bid for putting on the auction.
The successful bidder is permitted to hunt outside the regular season anywhere where sheep are normally hunted; if a non-resident wins, which is almost always the case, he or she must hire a licensed B.C. guide-outfitter. The hunter can shoot either a Dall or Stone thinhorn sheep — found in northern B.C. — or a California or Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, found in southern parts of the province.
Based on past experience, successful bidders prefer to hunt bighorn sheep in southeastern B.C. Bighorns, as well as Dall sheep, are “blue listed” as species of special concern in B.C. A provincial red listing applies to species that are endangered or threatened.
To keep resident hunters happy, the province also offers an annual lottery draw to British Columbians for a similar hunt; the winner only pays the going rate for a sheep tag, which is currently $60, compared with $620 for non-residents.
For trophy hunters, the North American grand slam of sheep includes one each of four sheep: Dall, Stone, Rocky Mountain, and desert, which is found in the southern U.S. and Mexico. Some of the more expensive guided hunts in northern B.C., where the majority of Stone sheep are found, can cost $35,000 to $40,000.
Wilf Pfleiderer, wildlife chair of the B.C. Federation of Wildlife, representing resident hunters and fishermen, said the two successful hunters are permitted to shoot a male sheep of any age, but in reality are only interested in mature rams for trophies. He said from Quesnel that the process is equitable to outfitters and residents alike and that there are “no negative consequences” to sheep populations based on only two hunts.
Online comment:It shouldn't even be called hunting - call it what it is: "Pleasure Killing"! That is beyond disgusting. I have a better idea. Winner of the auction gets to bring a high powered rifle into the legislature gallery and take one shot at any politician. His choice. They'd raise even more money, I'm sure. Think of it as vermin control.
Auctioning right to shoot wild sheep is woolly headed
Vancouver Sun, February 8, 2013
Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The provincial government is giving the highest bidder a chance to carry out a cold-blooded, calculated execution of a magnificent and defenceless wild mountain sheep. And it’s being justified in the name of “conservation fundraising.” Doesn’t anyone see the irony here?
I suggest solutions without bloodshed, but perhaps that’s too radical a thought.
Carmina Gooch, North Vancouver
An online comment: It shouldn't even be called hunting - call it what it is: "Pleasure Killing"! That is beyond disgusting. I have a better idea. Winner of the auction gets to bring a high powered rifle into the legislature gallery and take one shot at any politician. His choice. They'd raise even more money, I'm sure. Think of it as vermin control.