WSSBC WILD SHEEP SUMMIT - PRINCE GEORGE, BC November 17 & 18, 2022
Even though sound wild sheep management and conservation measures happen on the landscape, they all start when like-minded people come together. This past week the Wild Sheep Society of BC hosted a Summit in Prince George to facilitate such a gathering.
BC Wild Sheep Summit Goal - To facilitate knowledge sharing and foster collaboration in support of identifying regional issues and strategies that can be implemented in support of re-establishing wild sheep populations to stable and sustainable levels of abundance across British Columbia.
• More than 90 people attended/participated in the first-ever (and facilitated) Wild Sheep Summit for the Province of British Columbia.
• Government, NGOs, First Nations, guide/outfitter, resident hunter, academics, and other interested stakeholders participated.
• Breakout groups focused on each of the seven regions in the province that have wild sheep spent 1.5 days identifying and prioritizing the most important conservation/management goals for either thinhorn sheep or bighorn sheep, depending on which region.
• Breakout groups would periodically “report back” to the larger group, then re-convene into the smaller breakout groups, to fine-tune, hone, improve, and establish timelines (< 6 months; 6-18 months; > 18 months) and deliverables.
• WSF was represented by Kevin Hurley, Vice-President for Conservation, and North America Conservation Committee Chair (and Past Chairman of the WSF Board), Brett Jefferson. WSF Midwest Executive Director Mike Bouton also attended/participated.
• The entire WSSBC Board of Directors attended and actively participated as breakout group facilitators and/or notetakers.
WSF's VP of Conservation Kevin Hurley said of this latest meeting, "A diverse group of wild sheep conservation stakeholders took time away from their lives, businesses, families, and other interests to stay confined to a hotel meeting room, all united toward furthering the conservation of wild sheep in British Columbia. While there were certainly diverse points of view on many management issues, attendees rolled up their sleeves and productively engaged in earnest discussion, all to help BC's wild sheep resource; they came for the sheep!"
For every hands-on conservation action taken, countless hours have been spent identifying challenges and needs, what more needs to be known, who best to get the job done, how to get it done, and how to pay for it.
This process may not be as thrilling as riding in a netgun helicopter or taking biological samples from live sheep, or as emotional as seeing them released into a new home or witnessing a new crop of lambs in the spring, but meetings, planning, and frank debate is the grease that keeps the wheels turning.
Thank you, Wild Sheep Society of BC, for hosting this historic gathering.