Dire Situation for Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat in British Columbia Leads to the Formation of a New Coalition Calling for Change

For interviews, contact:
Tori Ball, Senior Campaigner
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter
(604) 685-7445 x24 


Dire Situation for Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat in British Columbia Leads to the Formation of a New Coalition Calling for Change

New Coalition Calls on Government to Re-establish B.C. as a World Leader in Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management


May 13, 2021

Traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples/Vancouver, BC — A new province-wide coalition is calling on the government to re-establish the province as a world leader in fish, wildlife, and habitat management.  The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition represent a diverse array of interests that all share common concerns about the decline of fish, wildlife, and habitat including environmental and conservation organizations, hunting and angling guides, wildlife viewing, ecotourism, naturalists, hunters, anglers, and trappers. 

Together, the group is seeking a commitment from the province to invest in healthy landscapes, waters, and fish and wildlife stewardship, in partnership with First Nations and communities. The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition recognizes and respects the constitutionally protected rights of Indigenous peoples and the collective commitment to advancing reconciliation.

The Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition will work to promote solutions guided by science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge for improved management of species and habitat in B.C. These will include:

  • Creating legislation that protects fish, wildlife, and habitat;
  • Integrating the needs of fish, wildlife, and habitat into new and existing legislation;
  • Increasing funding and creating a new governance model for fish, wildlife, and habitat management.

By championing solutions for conservation including management, restoration, and protection, the Coalition aims to help B.C. strengthen its communities and economy. These outcomes will be based on healthy and resilient ecosystems and abundant fish and wildlife with self-sustaining populations.

Quotes from coalition members and representatives:

“We’ve seen collaborative efforts like this coalition moving forward on important issues in BC, and we have no time to waste with the rampant global biodiversity crisis and declining wildlife populations across the province. CPAWS-BC is looking forward to working collaboratively with the coalition partners and all levels of government to improve the state of the lands, waters and wildlife in the Sea to Sky and across BC.”
Tori Ball, Senior Campaigner, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia

“The diverse make-up and size of the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition strongly demonstrates just how important fish and wildlife are to the overwhelming majority of British Columbians.. Locally, the Sea to Sky region faces numerous fish and wildlife challenges. Our mountain goat populations are struggling and Chinook salmon are nearly extinct in the Birkenhead River. However, there are also some glimmers of hope like the reintroduction of elk at the heads of coastal inlets, and reports that grizzly bear numbers are finally increasing west of Highway 99 – evidence that with a bit of help, wildlife can recover.”
Johnny Mikes, Field Director, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative 

“This coalition was formed in response to the growing concern over the province’s failure–over successive governments–to adequately deal with a mounting crisis of biodiversity loss and cumulative impacts on ecosystem health. I’m excited about the work we can do together to restore, over the long-term, the sustainability of fish and wildlife populations and habitat in British Columbia.”
Tim Burkhart, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

“I am pleased to see so many groups come together for the benefit of fish, wildlife and habitat.  They have been taken for granted for too many years.  Abundant fish and wildlife should be the indicator of a healthy forest.” 
Scott Ellis, Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia

“In a generation of people, B.C. has gone from being a global leader in fish, wildlife and habitat conservation, to a landscape which can be characterized as at risk, endangered and extirpated.  Whether it’s salmon, steelhead, old-growth, moose, or caribou, B.C. has never been in such poor shape.  The coalition represents a broad realization that we need to set aside what divides us and work together on what’s important: the conservation, restoration, and protection of fish, wildlife and habitat.”
Jesse Zeman, B.C. Wildlife Federation

“When such a diverse group of organizations can come together and work collaboratively, you know the issue is important.  For British Columbia to remain Super, Natural™, fish and wildlife must take priority and be recognized for what they are; essential for healthy, lasting ecosystems.”
Katherine MacRae, Commercial Bear Viewing Association

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Media Contacts:

Tim Burkhart, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (250) 719-9614 tim@y2y.net

Scott Ellis, Guide Outfitters Association of BC (604) 328-4686 ellis@goabc.org

Jesse Zeman, B.C. Wildlife Federation (250) 878-3799 jessezeman@gmail.com

Kathy MacRae, Commercial Bear Viewing Association, (604) 762-7751 kathy@bearviewing.ca

Context: British Columbia is known all over the world for its diverse landscapes and unparalleled biodiversity that once included plentiful populations of fish and wildlife.

However, a lack of investment in fish, wildlife, and habitat management, combined with the impacts of resource extraction and a growing human population has severely reduced the number of species and is jeopardizing the future of B.C.’s natural legacy.

Our mountains, rivers, lakes and forests are suffering from decades of mismanagement and unsustainable use.

Habitat degradation and loss have reduced our landscapes’ ability to produce and sustain abundant fish and wildlife as they once did. The abundance of fish and wildlife – creatures large and small; iconic and obscure; common and rare – that the province once had has dwindled to scarcity in less than a single person’s lifetime.

This is concerning for a wide range of people, including First Nations, butterfly enthusiasts, bird watchers, big game hunters, and wildlife viewers. We now have several red-listed species, record low salmon and moose populations, and declining mountain sheep and mule deer populations in parts of the province. This scarcity of fish and wildlife has increased social conflict and threatens food security and tourism-related jobs.

About the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition: Partners from 25 organizations, representing a total of more than 273,000 British Columbians and more than 900 businesses across B.C. 

Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition members include:

  • Backcountry Hunters and Anglers British Columbia
  • BC Federation of Fly Fishers
  • BC Fishing Tourism Association
  • BC Trappers Association
  • B.C. Wildlife Federation
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter
  • Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association
  • Fraser Valley Salmon Society
  • Georgia Strait Alliance
  • Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC
  • Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative
  • British Columbia Federation of Drift Fishers
  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
  • Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia
  • Outdoor Recreation Council of BC
  • Hunters for BC – SCI
  • The Steelhead Society of BC
  • Traditional Bowhunters British Columbia
  • United Bowhunters
  • Watershed Watch Salmon Society
  • Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia
  • Wilderness Tourism Association of BC
  • Wildsight
  • Wildlife Stewardship Council
  • Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative