VOHRINGER: Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club vs. Douglas Lake Ranch

By on February 16, 2017
Othmar Vohringer lives in the Nicola Valley. He is an animal behaviourist and outdoor writer for hunting magazines in Canada and the U.S.

One news item that is getting a lot of attention — not only in the Nicola Valley but across Canada and even in parts of the U.S. — is the ongoing court case between the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club and Douglas Lake Cattle Company.

The case, which was heard in the Supreme Court in Kamloops over the course of January, has been well-covered in the Herald and other media outlets. After hearing the final witnesses last week, the case has been suspended until May when the judge will attend a field recognizance trip to the lakes in question before making a final ruling.

I’ve followed the proceedings via media reports and like many others I am impressed by how well the access committee of the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club was prepared and the sheer volume of evidence they produced to make their point. Of course we still have to wait for the judge’s final decision but I am confident that, in this case, the people will win their rights to access public property that has been blocked by private land owners. I am especially encouraged to think like that after the witness for the government was heard, which left no doubt that the government made a deal behind closed doors with the ranch owner and did so without the mandatory consultation of the people and First Nations of the Nicola Valley.

Unfortunately, the dispute with the Douglas Lake Cattle Company is no single event. All across British Columbia and Canada Crown land and waters are illegally — or by means of shady government deals with private owners — closed to the public. Should the judge side with the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club it would set a precedent for other court rulings on Crown land and water lockouts in this province and across Canada. This case also reflects a long held belief of mine that if people speak up and are ready to fight for their rights they will be heard.

Local Taxidermist Featured In Permanent Exhibition

If you visited the Canadian Tire store recently you couldn’t help noticing the complete remake of the outdoor department and the great display of taxidermy art. The taxidermy work for the display is provided by Steven Beckley, owner of the Wilderness Taxidermy Studio, here in Merritt. Steven Beckley is a master of his trade as can be evidenced by the display. Steven has the amazing skill of creating exotic and native wildlife taxidermy that is simply astonishing and lifelike to the beholder. If you haven’t seen the display at the Canadian Tire I recommend you go and have a look, it is well worth it.

Best of the best to be honoured at Game Dinner & Trophy Night

Mark your calendars for March 4, 2017. That is the date when the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club hold their popular annual Game Dinner & Trophy Night at the senior centre. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the admission fee for a single person is $10, or $15 for a family. Dinner, consisting of a large variety of wild-game meats, will be served at 6:30 p.m. If you entered the trophy and photo competition (deadline for entry was Feb. 15, 2017) you may be eligible to win one of the coveted trophy awards. Besides these awards there are many door and raffle prizes to be won and a silent auction for outdoor-related art and products.

This is a great event for hunters, anglers, friends and family to get together and have some fun, meet up with friends and make some new ones. Tickets are available at the Ponderosa Sporting Goods Store, Gun Fishin, or at the event. This year, as a special attraction, the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club presents a special trophy exhibition from the Wilderness Taxidermy Studio in Merritt. This is an event my wife and I attend every year, and I am looking forward to seeing many of the regular readers of this column there.      

3 Comments

  1. Lloyd

    February 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Except that the Lakes on the DLR are NOT lakes but reservoirs (that the ranches with the water rights could just drain, thus turning them back into small fishless streams), there are NO natural fish – the DLR stocks them. Neither the club nor government want to spend the money to stock the reservoirs, and if the ranch drains it there is no where to put the fish anyway. Just saying.

  2. BC Gray

    February 18, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Sorry “DLR Lloyd” the ranch would just be shooting itself in the foot if it chose to do what you suggest. Plus Lloyd the maps I have show the “Lakes” though much smaller dated 1930.

    It seems to me that the DLR Manager liked the idea of Bullying” the Local Fisherfolk instead of talking and cooperating with them which would have benefitted both the local club and the Ranch.

    My hat’s off to the good folks of the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club

  3. Othmar

    February 19, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    @Lloyd, the BC government lists the lakes and “natural lakes” not reservoirs. What the ranch did is flood the existing lakes over the high water mark. According to the evidence the club presented the stocking of the fish is/was illegal because the landowner has no fish stocking permit. It will be interesting to see the ruling of the judge after his inspection of the site and reviewing of the evidence.

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