Early this month, MWF representatives including Executive Committee Members Lewis Allen, and Cameron Neurenburg, MWF President – Brian Strauman, and MWF staff members Executive Director – Chris Heald and Managing Director – Carly Deacon met with Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development – The Honourable Blaine Pedersen to discuss key fish and wildlife management priorities. The MWF has identified the following as top priorities for advocacy and policy work:
The concept of shared management applies to all species in Manitoba, as well is should apply to our strategy going forward with the Lake Winnipeg Fishery. For now we are concentrating on our dwindling moose populations and are looking for a management plan that would allow us to re-open moose closures on the East and the West sides of the Province. Shared management requires a collaboration of all invested stakeholders including licensed hunters, metis, First Nations and lodges and Outfitters all working together to develop a plan that will ensure the sustainability of moose populations.
Lake Winnipeg Fishery:
It is clear that the Lake Winnipeg Fishery has suffered due to the lack of proper fisheries management. The Lake Winnipeg Fishery is faced with similar challenges as managing moose and requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders using the shared management model. The loss of the fishery could have serious implications on all stakeholders livelihoods, traditions, businesses or means of sustenance and so the MWF and other partner groups are advocating for all user groups to reconvene and work together on a management plan that allow resource users to continue to share the opportunities that the Lake Winnipeg Fishery provides.
Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s):
WMA’s are parcels of land, designated by the Minister under the Wildlife Act, that have been set aside to protect critical wildlife habitat and enhance hunting and trapping opportunities. WMA’s are open to hunting and trapping (with a few exceptions) and if maintained and managed, are an important resource for the government, MWF and our members. The MWF would like to see our WMA’s better managed, maintained and marketed to the public to increase their ecological function and increase utilization. Access has been proven to be one of the biggest deterrents for new hunters. We would like to see easier access into the WMA properties, accessible maps, better signage and marked boundaries, upgraded infrastructure, and government staff to implement management strategies to improve wildlife habitat and abundance.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):
CWD, (or Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy), a prion disease fatal to cervid species such as deer and caused by misfolded proteins called prions, has been top of mind for many Manitoban hunters as well as the MWF for over a year. To curtail the spread of CWD into Manitoba, the MWF is advocating for baiting and feeding bans across the province, increased tags in the Western Region and for the Government to have an emergency plan in place in case CWD is found in MB.
Investment in Fish/Wildlife Staff:
The MWF is advocating for Government to invest in fish and wildlife staff. This includes managers, techs and biologists as well as Conservation Officers. After 20 years of budget cutting and slashing key staff positions, the time has come to reinvest in fish and wildlife management, science, and enforcement so that fish and wildlife resources can be enjoyed by all user groups. Retired Fisheries staffer recently wrote a fascinating article for Hooked Magazine on this topic. You can read it right here
The MWF is firmly opposed to further bans, buy-back schemes or legislation designed to further restrict firearms for law abiding firearms owners in Canada. Further, the MWF stands behind the safe and lawful use of firearms and is supportive of the Government finding solutions to the root causes of violent crime in Canada (gang violence, social issues, straw purchases and mental health issues to name a few). The MWF will continue to bring awareness through sharing information with our members and affiliate clubs.