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Estimates - Environment (4 April 2007)

From Economy Committee Hansard - 4 April 2007

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Department of Environment

Mr. Hart: — Just a follow-up question to my colleague’s questions. I believe none of the structures that are causing . . . that are part of the discussions are located on First Nations land. Is that correct?

Mr. Ireland: — If you’re meaning is there any land where there’s diking or control structures? I believe there is one spot where there is a part of a control structure on First Nations property. But otherwise it is flooding First Nations land is what is being contended.

Mr. Hart: — What First Nations would have that control structure located on its land?

Mr. Ireland: — I’m not as close to this file as you’d like me to be perhaps, but Kahkewistahaw, is that the right word? . . . [inaudible interjection] . . . Okay. I believe that’s the one.

Mr. Hart: — Thank you. To open up an entirely new matter here. Minister, recently I saw a report but I don’t recall all the details that your department had issued on the value of hunting and fishing to this province. My questions are more so with the value of hunting in this province and particularly out-of-province hunters. And particularly . . . The vast majority are out-of-country I guess would be more so, and I would assume that most of the out-of-country hunters would be coming from the US [United States]. What approximate value did you determine the US hunters would bring to the economy of Saskatchewan?

Hon. Mr. Nilson: — Well I think that as far as the fishing — which I assume you’re interested in as well — we think that the commercial fishing side is worth about $5 million in the economy, but that the provincial outfitting industry expenditures around the whole business have increased from 25 million in 1990 to 85 million last year. So it’s been a substantial increase and I think that includes both fish and the hunting part. And so quite often there are people who operate in both areas, so that’s how that’s presented.

But I think the basic point is that this is a very important industry in Saskatchewan. And we did this study together with the outfitters to actually show that this was an important part of our economy and that we need to work together to make sure that it stays that way for the long term.

Mr. Hart: — As part of the study was there any work done on the contribution to the economy by US hunters hunting or harvesting animals on game farms? Was that part of your study? Or was it only animals taken in the wild?

Hon. Mr. Nilson: — No, I don’t think so. The responsibility for that actually is in the Agriculture department and so that was treated more as a livestock kind of issue in the Ag department and not as something that would be related to wildlife.

Mr. Hart: — Well perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to ask the Minister of Agriculture that question. Just as a follow-up to that whole area, what regulations are in place that would affect a US hunter who would like to take his trophy back home with him, whether it be the horns or whether it be the capes and horns? What is the procedure and what is your department’s responsibility in that area?

Mr. Phillips: — For most species . . . I’ll use a deer, white-tailed deer as an example. The provincial hunting licence cancelled with . . . You know, if say a non-resident American coming to hunt white-tailed deer, the licence itself — attached to the horns, to the hide and to the meat —is a sufficient authority to take it out of the country.

There’s at least one species though that’s governed by, it’s called CITES. It’s the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It captures black bear, so there’s a special permit that’s required for a hunter. It’s a federal permit that’s required to move a black bear hide or parts into the United States. It’s also been the case for . . . I guess this was big game. But for . . . Sandhill cranes are also captured by the CITES requirement.

Mr. Hart: — So then if I understood you, Mr. Phillips, correctly, if an American hunter has a licence to hunt elk or deer or moose that’s all they really need to take their trophies back home with them, and the meat. They don’t require an export permit or anything along that line.

Mr. Phillips: — That’s correct. It would only be the case though for white-tailed deer and moose. We don’t have a non-resident season for elk. And black bear would be distinguished in the way I described.

Mr. Hart: — Now does your . . . Does the Department of Environment have any involvement and responsibility in animals that are harvested on hunt farms? And hunters when they wish to take their animal home with them — whether it be the meat or the whole carcass, the carcass or the capes and horns — does the Department of Environment have a responsibility in that area?

Mr. Phillips: — Most of that responsibility doesn’t fall to our department. Our department primarily is concerned with matters related to importation and export of live animals. That’s with respect to concerns about disease. However there are concerns about movement of animals harvested on First Nation outfitting businesses across the border.

So we . . . Our compliance staff work co-operatively with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and with First Nations themselves to try and provide the type of documentation that would enable an animal that was harvested on a First Nations outfitting business across the US border.

A couple of things that have been done, we’ve helped First Nations through the creation of sample bylaws — band bylaws — with respect to marking, tagging requirements. We’ve also provided advice in the past on what type of actual tag could be used and we continue to work to try and, you know, enable proper enforcement with our counterparts in as it goes across the US border.

Mr. Hart: — So just to be clear then, so if a US hunter is harvesting an animal on a hunt farm that is not located on a First Nations land, the Department of Environment has no role in and has no responsibility in the export of that harvested animal to the US. But you do have some responsibilities and have played a role with regards to those animals that are harvested on a First Nations hunt farm. Is that what you just told me?

Mr. Phillips: — Yes, that’s correct. It’s more of an assist role that we’ve been providing to First Nations and the FSIN [Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations] to try and, you know, enable the activity, the legitimate activity that they’re involved with.

Hon. Mr. Nilson: — Can I maybe just add something to that, is that the issue at the US border is, is this an animal from a hunt farm or is it an animal that’s taken in the wild? And sometimes it’s not always easy to tell, and so that’s where some of the discussion may take place. And so there have been different concerns that are joint Agriculture concerns and Environment concerns around importation of animals into Saskatchewan that are then harvested and then what happens to those particular animals. And so this is an area where there have been a number of rather complicated issues that involve what happens at the US border.

Mr. Hart: — Now what agencies would be raising these issues at the US border? Would they be Canadian agencies? Would they be American agencies? I wonder if you could just explain that a bit more.

Mr. Phillips: — Generally the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

Mr. Hart: — And their concerns are whether the animal is an animal harvested in the wild or whether it’s harvested on a hunt farm? Are they making the further distinction on hunt farm animals, whether they’re First Nations or non-First Nations?

Mr. Phillips: — I think that’s part of the concern. It’s been unclear at the border which animals come from where and which are appropriately marked. There’s at least potential and there is concern that there is illegally harvested wildlife that’s flowing through that system. It’s the US Fish & Wildlife Service that’s raised that with us. I expect probably the customs service as well, because it would typically be at airports or at border crossings where these questions would arise.

There’s also been some concern about consistency in the type of tag that’s used. We’ve worked with the FSIN to recommend a consistent tagging format that would be more readily recognized. There have been some cases in the last few years were individual First Nations have adopted a different system so it leaves the US Fish & Wildlife Service people uncertain, unsure whether the animal is marked properly or is it a legitimate tag. And those are the types of concerns that we’re responding to.

Mr. Hart: — Well I have a document here, it’s issued apparently by your department and it deals with . . . It’s called the application for export permit for wild game taken under First Nations bylaws. Now is this . . . I’m presuming that this doesn’t apply to hunt farm animals. Is this export permit, is that specifically for First Nations outfitters? And in fact is this still in effect?

Hon. Mr. Nilson: — Perhaps you could send us a copy of what you’ve got here so we could take a look at it. But I think that this may be an attempt to try to deal with this particular issue at the US border. And so it’s an issue that we have talked with the FSIN about and with some of the local First Nations. Because, as you know, the FSIN can try to solve problems on a broad basis but each First Nation needs to set up some of their own rules.

And so what happens then is when a person comes to the border and they don’t have a provincial tag . . . I mean they could get a provincial tag on top of the First Nations one. It’s when they go without a provincial tag that these issues arise. And so I think this document that you’re showing there may be a first attempt at something that might be a common practice that would work at the level of providing a provincial endorsation of an FSIN local First Nation process that then eliminates the confusion for the American hunters who obviously spend a lot of money when they come up here.

Mr. Hart: — Well I think if you look at the document, it has the Sask Environment name on it and so I’m guessing that that’s your document. Is that process still . . . Is that an old document or is this permitting process still in place?

Hon. Mr. Nilson: — Well I just know this is from 2004, is when the document came. But I know that this particular issue of what kind of certification would be satisfactory to the US officials is a question that we’ve discussed with the chiefs at the FSIN, and that people are trying to sort out how we can deal with this in a way that . . . Basically the US guys say, well give us one or two examples of what you would see as legitimate from Saskatchewan and we’ll accept those. But when we get 20 or 30 or 40, how do we know which ones are valid or not?

And so, you know, you’re asking questions about something that is clearly an issue. The simplest way for an outfitter to deal with it is to make sure that all of the people who hunt with him have a provincial tag, and then they don’t have a problem.

Mr. Hart: — Now there are some issues surrounding hunt farms located on First Nations land. What is your department’s policy and what is your department’s involvement in that area as far as, again, the export of the carcass and the . . . or the capes and horns and those sorts of things? What role is your department playing in that whole area?

Mr. Phillips: — Provincial authority doesn’t actually extend onto the First Nation for purposes of, you know, monitoring or involvement in the outfitting activity or the hunt farm activity that goes on. Our involvement comes when the products of those activities move through the province and across the . . . you know, into neighboring jurisdictions.

So our efforts have been to try and, number one, control and manage risks around disease for animals that are coming into the province, onto a First Nation. And we work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and with our adjacent provinces on that matter. And then with respect to the export of animals taken, then that’s where . . . It’s what we discussed earlier about the identification of the animals as being, you know, appropriately taken.

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