I appreciate hunting and do so occasionally. Last year, my friend and I successfully hunted moose. It was a fine experience with a great result.
I also appreciate visitors and showing them around. This year, on the latest trip, we saw three black bears. My mother was enchanted. She took many photographs, quite close up. Seeing wildlife was a topflight experience for her.
My mother loves seeing the wildlife she has seen here. It seems to be a multifaceted and layered experience that resonates deeply. She will tell her stories to other people and because they are factual, they have a real impact.
Today I put my mother on Air North, and saw that Yukon knows well about the connection between our wildlife and our visitors.
The bears with cubs, caribou, moose Ã quite wonderful documentary-style cinematography Ã on the large-screen televisions are shown to arriving and departing visitors.
These images suggest a promise, an enticement. Go out and look around, the images say, these animals live here and if you are very fortunate you may see some, somewhere, sometime.
We know that the majority of our visitors, if they see wildlife, will see wildlife along the highways.
The Yukon News published a well-composed letter written by Guy Coderre on May 26th.
Coderre opposes limits on road hunting and, among other things, invites proof to be submitted that road hunting hurts tourism. He wrote, “Road hunting and tourism have always co-existed in Yukon, and both have done very well, thank you very much.”
Maybe these activities have co-existed, and maybe nothing has gone amiss. Lucky, I say.
I don’t think visitors come here to encounter a person shooting a wild animal along a highway. Or disemboweling an animal along a highway. Or skinning one. And that’s not because visitors don’t understand hunting.
Take my mother, she knows hunting. My father probably brought more than 20 moose home to eat. She and most visitors likely do not mind hunting, but what my mother and other visitors hope to see in their Yukon visit are live wild animals.
I think visitors seeing an animal shot along a road would be sickened and feel betrayed by a place that invites them to get out and see wildlife.
I think they would ask, “How can this be?” many times, and that question wouldn’t just go away neatly.
After seeing a roadside kill, or its aftermath, I expect a departing visitor would see those enchanting wildlife images at the Whitehorse airport as a slap across the brain.
Yukon has tourism brand and reputation that is important and valuable to many livelihoods here. Building successful brands like Yukon’s tourism brand is expensive Ã rehabilitating reputations is possibly more expensive, and more uncertain.
These days, considerations like “risk management” are often voiced. We want to identify risks to what is valuable to us and minimize those risks. Road hunting in the presence of visitors is a threat to Yukon’s tourism reputation and the livelihoods built on it.
Is calling for proof of something as obvious as whether visitors want to see alive or dead wildlife a good use of our time and money? Maybe it has to be done. I would take bets on the outcome.
Yukon is not inviting visitors to wildlife kill sites, outfitting clients in the backcountry excepted, so it may behoove us to consider this issue very carefully and consider all interests, and not just state that a right exists to kill a wild animal beside a road regardless of the costs, conflicts and consequences.