B.C. looking at the benefits of a “moose tax”

It’s been a rough few years for moose in North America. In the past decade, their numbers have gone into sharp decline, and the number of moose who do not survive their first year of life has gone way up.

Researchers believe the decline is due to a number of issues, including climate change, disease, and parasites. The issue was a focus of the North American moose conference this year, which was held in Manitoba, with researchers and representatives from many communities coming together to share information and resources.

But in B.C., the government is ready to act and already looking at a novel solution: a “moose tax.”

No, the government isn’t asking moose to start paying GST. The idea is that the province wants to find sources of revenue to put towards conservation. The money may not come from actual taxes, but instead from charging fees to those who hunt, kill, or damage the habitats of moose.

In some parts of B.C., moose populations have declined by 50 to 70 percent in the last few years. The province has begun a five-year study to help understand what is causing populations to deteriorate, and in the meantime, they have promised to put $1.2 million into moose management. They are also following the recommendations of a report that was written by Al Gorley, an environmental consultant—and some of those recommendations involve paying when moose are killed or their habitats are interfered with.

Photo by Julie Lubick
With the increasing challenges of climate change and disease, baby moose often do not survive their first year of life.

For example, Gorley recommends that rail companies should pay a fee when moose are killed by trains, and that corporations should pay for interfering with moose habitats. He also recommends that all the revenue from hunting licenses should be put toward conservation. Essentially, the plan is that more money from industries involving moose and their habitats would be put toward protecting these areas.

While the word “tax” tends to scare people, the idea behind the moose tax is allocating funds toward protecting one of Canada’s iconic animals, particularly in a province with an unusual funding model. “Nearly every jurisdiction in North America has a dedicated funding model for fish and wildlife management: BC does not,” the B.C. Wildlife Federation told the Globe and Mail. “B.C. needs a new, innovative approach to wildlife management which is financially stable, and results based.”

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