They Just Don’t Get It!

I’m always amazed how easy it is for a politician to deal away many of the things we hold sacred for some short-term gain. And that’s exactly what is happening with our crippled Alberta government and Bill 11, the Livestock Industry Diversification Amendment Act, 2011. The bill will allow some misguided minister to allow the shooting of domesticated wildlife behind a fence—or what has often been called “canned hunting.”

Domestic Elk

Allowing the shooting of fenced big game is an affront to our wildlife heritage!

As a hunter and wildlife biologist, I find canned hunting a massive affront to North America’s long-standing wildlife management heritage, as first verbalized by Aldo Leopold. It represents the further commoditization of our wildlife that started here in Alberta with the original wildlife diversification act. That act allowed ranchers to purchase domesticated elk and deer to raise for antler velvet and meat. It was opposed by hunters and environmentalists alike, but the Getty government pushed it through because of powerful interests in the Progressive Conservative (PC) party. As a result, many of the consequences predicted by the opponents to the act came true, including cervid tuberculosis (causing a mass cull of affected elk herds) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The latter is now a present in Alberta and will affect our wild deer herds for decades to come.

The game ranches were never profitable and soon the ranchers were pushing the government to allow them to establish “cervid harvest preserves (CHPs)” where they could sell hunts to people who were unable or unwilling to go hunt trophy animals in the wild. After a concerted campaign against CHPs waged by a coalition of conservation and environmental groups, the push was defeated in 2002 when Premier Ralph Klein said publicly that shooting animals behind a fence was a abhorrent activity that would not be allowed in Alberta.

Yet, here we are again as the present PC government is trying to sneak hunt farms (CHPs, canned hunting) through a seemingly innocuous bill to amend the original act. The bill will allow the minister of the day to authorize any activity on game ranches that otherwise would contravene the original act. Guess what that will allow? It’s sneaky, it’s underhanded, and it has no place in a province that once regaled its wildlife heritage as unique in North America if not the world. If this bill passes as is, that heritage will be for sale to the highest bidder.

If you are an Albertan and are concerned about this issue, contact your Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)

Jack Hayden, Minister of Agriculture:

Mel Knight, Minister of SRD:

and your Premier- Ed Stelmach:

As well, contact the opposition leaders:

Dr. David Swann:

and Brain Mason:

Tell them our Alberta heritage is not for sale!

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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2 Responses to They Just Don’t Get It!

  1. Don Meredith says:

    A Clarification: As has been pointed out to me, if you drill down into Bill 11 (you must download the PDF version from the first link above, some 60 pp.) to section 18, you will find that hunting on game ranches is specifically prohibited. However, section 10 specifically allows the agriculture minister of the day to contravene any section of the bill and permit any use whatsoever. Given the comments made by Alberta Sustainable Resources Minister, Mel Knight, to the Alberta Fish and Game Association AGM in 2010 (he would not oppose hunt farms), it would not be surprising if a minister of the day decided to use section 10 to trump section 18 and allow canned hunting. It all comes down to trust, and there’s not a lot of that for this government right now.

  2. Don Meredith says:

    They blinked!
    Don’t ever say you can’t make a difference. You can !

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