Guardians of B.C.’s Wildlife

IMG_0072Allen McEwan is the president of the Pemberton Valley Wildlife Association. He is a fourth generation Pemberton valley resident. Allen got involved with the Pemberton Valley Wildlife Association as a child.

“It’s been a lifetime involvement for me. I’ve served with the club in various roles. It’s the fish and wildlife interest that brought me to the club and that is why I am still here.”

Allen was lucky enough to start tramping in the woods in Pemberton with his grandfather and his father when he was barely old enough to stagger along behind them.

“Prior to 6 years old, I was out there. It’s become a part of my life. I don’t feel satisfied looking out the window. I want to go out and hear the birds, see the tracks in the snow or mud, see the deer on the hill sides, hear the wolves, and see a grizzly bear track. It’s part of our fabric. It’s something we grew up with and it’s really, really important to us.”

Allen says for the most part the club serves as guardians for the local fish and wildlife resource. Everything they’ve been  involved in revolves around protecting the local fish and wildlife resources.

“When the club was still very young and so was I, there was an issue with moose conservation here. We have a very small population of moose on the southern boundary of moose habitat in the province. The club called the provincial government to stop the hunting season because they felt it was unsustainable. We’ve done our part ever since to speak up for the moose and put signs up to warn people not to hunt them.”

Allen says the most important land use decision in the valley that the club has been involved in is the decision to set aside a major tract of land for deer winter range. The biologists that work for the government identified the land and pushed the planning for it to be conserved. The club was behind it from the start .

“We feel pretty darn good about having that deer winter range really well protected now through a legislated wildlife act plan.”

The club has also worked with ministry biologists on collaring projects with both deer and mountain goats.

“Rather than having a government employee for months trying to collar deer, the biologists had confidence in us and asked us to put the collars on. Those projects have been really satisfying because we had a lot of people go out onto the land and got some first hand experience with some wildlife capture, collaring and what not, but also to sit back and see the results afterwards. To marvel at some of the distances these animals migrate, the fact that they can go back and  find their home range when the time comes.”

Allen and the club also have had a long connection with salmon and steelhead resources in Pemberton.

“It’s been discouraging in many respects because we’re slowly losing them. We had some amazing years when I was a youngster fishing for chinook salmon and steelhead. Those days are gone, we’ve lost  that opportunity.”

Allen believes there are two important points to push forward. One is that the BCWF and clubs associated with the BCWF should work to build stronger relationships with the local first nations and work together on common interests. The other point is to highlight the term guardian:

“I think the term guardian is a very important concept for us to continue to put forward. A lot of us are hunters and anglers, but the more important role is that of the guardian, to make sure those populations do well and any fishing or hunting that is done is sustainable.”  

~By Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen

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