If there are three tips that David Lewis, president of the BC Wildlife Federation, Region 6, could give to those who love nature and conservation, it would be: Be careful when crossing rivers with ATVs, because too much Salmon spawning grounds are torn in place, particularly in the Hays and Oldfield Creek areas.
âYou will find a lot of places where people have quad biked. It’s habitat destruction and it’s detrimental to the next cycle of fish, or the next generation, âhe said. âIt’s a local issue that actually affects our local salmon population. “
âSecond, when you are off the road and in the bush, leave it as you found it. Take out what you brought. Also, with wildfire issues, make sure that if you have a fire that you are cleaning up, make sure your fire is out before you walk away.
Lewis has been involved in conservation and angling since his father first took him fishing when he was four years old. Hunting and wildlife came later. His first exposure to guns was at the age of nine. It lives and breathes conservation and wildlife. He even adorns the walls of his living room.
Growing up in Ontario, David spent the winter ice fishing in the northern lakes in -40 Â° C. The family moved to Nova Scotia, where their education with wildlife began.
âI have had a lot of experiences with game and fish. It’s just something my dad got me to do, âhe said. The view from the north.
He fondly remembers learning to fish in the ocean. Unbeknownst to his mother, his father sometimes worked weekends and placed David on the pier fishing, where he could watch him from his office window. Her father would go down to lunch and fish a little, then go back to work.
While her mother spent her youth growing up around fishing, she never allowed the processing of their catch or hunts to take place in her kitchen or even in her home.
âIt’s funny,â David said. âEverything we harvested we ate. She had even gone out with the shrimp traps once. She loves to eat it. She loves that. She is the first at the table. But it’s just not being done right under his nose.
âShe said, don’t treat him in my house. Go outside. But, have me for the first meal, âhe laughed.
From when David was in his early twenties, he was involved in hatcheries around the Saugeen area of ââOntario, and this continued until he and his wife Marie moved to Prince Rupert in 2007. A year later, he got involved with Prince Rupert Rod and Gun Club, of which he is now a member of the board of directors.
David said that with the influence and friendship of Ken Franzen, he became more involved in issues and his awareness grew by attending meetings. He eventually became chairman of the Prince Rupert Sport Fishing Advisory Committee.
From there, his involvement extended to several committees, including the working group on bottom shellfish and the working group on halibut.
âWe just worked with DFO to change the regulations about a week ago when the small halibut went down to three fish a day. “
The outdoor enthusiast has served as President of the British Columbia Regional Wildlife Federation for over ten years and over time his involvement in the wildlife sector has grown.
A genuine guy, David is grateful to his teachers, like Mike Langegger, an environmentalist from Kitimat, and Mike O’Neil from Prince Rupert, who has since passed away.
âThey all worked with me and did a lot of mentoring, teaching and working together. From there, I eventually became president of the Northwest Fish and Wildlife Conservation Association, which I have been for three to four years now. “
Region 6, which he oversees, represents just over 25 percent of the province.
âSo the basic provincial issues that we deal with would be fishing, hunting and sport shooting. Under that, there are issues of access and collaboration with First Nations. Another big issue we are dealing with is conservation.
âSo locallyâ¦ there are still moose issues. Decreased habitat, which has had an effect. Glycophate spray that destroys habitat, âhe said, explaining that the chemical is a pesticide used in forestry.
The forestry practice of spraying such a compound raises concerns as it removes the hardwood that acts as a firebreak and the willows that provide food for ungulates. Trees that are replanted for financial gain are not the broadleaf variety that helps the environment.
âSo you lost the food. You have lost the undergrowth, which feeds your entire food source. And you poison the environment, âhe said.
âIt’s a big deal here because you have a huge forest resource and the moose habitat is being destroyed,â he said. âAlso, when the forest roads are created, you have now created a highway for bears, wolves and predators, which allows them to move more easily. Nothing grows. Nothing grows properly.
David said that if there is no growth at the bottom of the food chain, nothing at the top of the chain eats well.
“It’s the people, it’s the animals, it’s the insects, it’s the fish, you have the same problem with glyphosates and the generational issues, the health issues, which then affects everyone who fishes, hunt for food. . In addition to affecting the ability of animals to survive. They have lost their habitat. They have lost their food source.
David said it was certainly a great balance between extracting resources, preserving habitat, and leaving enough habitat for wildlife expansion.
âAt the end of the day, we want to see more fish in the water, more animals on the ground and more birds in the air. This is the measure of success, with this abundance is when everyone is able to make the best use of the resource, like the First Nations, [people like me and wildlife colleagues], and many others in this part of the work who hunt and fish for food.
“We have to respect the environment we live in and the animals in it,” the conservationist said, adding that if he has a choice he will eat what he harvests rather than what can be purchased in a store. He learned to kill his own game, from birds and moose to caribou and deer.
Throughout his life, he learned to respect the land and the wilderness more and more. He goes hunting as often as he can, sometimes four times a year for up to ten days with a trusted person.
âYou have to trust the person you are with. You have to trust them with your life. You know you don’t want to be there with your enemy. It’s building camaraderie. Any trip like this is a success. The bonus is if we collect an animal and put food on the table. Not all trips have a harvest.
KJ Millar | Journalist
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View north of Prince Rupert