Hank Shelley

Column: Organized hunters and anglers

In the U.S., hunting and fishing has inspired more than 45 million outdoorsmen and women over years of time.

The sports contribute $70 billion annually to the economy and $179 billion in ripple effect, meaning gun sales, ammunition, travel, food, lodging, clothing, etc.

Hunters and anglers also contribute close to $1.7 billion to conservation.

On a much smaller scale due to less population, hunters and anglers in Canada contribute millions annually to hunting and fishing and the economy.

Also contributing to hunting and fishing in B.C. is the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, where a small portion of each fishing or hunting licence sold contributes to conservation. Since 1981, and over the years, $65 million has gone toward 800 wildlife projects, and continues to this day.

History of fish and game clubs: Over time, hunters and anglers in the province became concerned about market hunting of game and fowl. Also, the liberal limits allocated to hunters and fishers.

Outdoorsmen gathered together to form conservation groups to pressure the governments of the day to practice more conservation of the province’s fish and wildlife populations. Hence, fish and game clubs sprang up in the province. As well, the B.C. Wildlife Federation was born. Presently, the federation has more than 38,000 members representing a strong voice toward healthy populations of game animals, wetlands conservation, habitat restoration, BOW program (outdoors program for ladies) and keeping tabs on government on allocation between hunters and guides for animals to be harvested.

Change, however, is inevitable, and as our population expanded into what once was fringe areas of growth, fish and game clubs began to feel the squeeze of encroachment. What was once a shooting range for trap shooting or rifle practice became a target of residents living in close proximity due to noise pollution or traffic congestion, etc.

As residential development expanded, the Vernon club had to relocate, as did Cherryville. The Revelstoke club closed due to ski development. One bright note is the Salmon Arm Fish and Wildlife Club, with a lease from the city surrounded by 120 acres of untouched forest.

Over time, and many banquet fundraisers, money was spent on a new rifle range and building, including improvements to the pistol bays. Included this past two seasons is the new RCMP firing range where officers from all Interior points can come to qualify and shoot in comfort of their own surroundings. This range will be open to conservation officers, as well as fishery officers for qualifications.

Membership: Currently, the club has 365 individuals, 156 seniors – three lifetime, 86 youth and 94 spouses, with a total of 701 members.

Two events that highlight the year are the annual gun show, which brought the club $6,829 for conservation, and the banquet. This year, the event is Feb. 10. Money from this helps build the new ranges etc.

For more on the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club and its history by Bruce Lamb, search Google for the club’s website. The club is a proud member of the community, speaking out for conservation.

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