The unrestricted use of vehicles, and activities that stem from vehicle use, is destroying properties of historic and natural significance. These activities are clearly and totally inconsistent with the stated purpose of WMA's.
In April of 2021 I reported my concerns to the Minister in charge....
Honourable Blaine Pedersen
Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development
CC. Minister of Conservation and Climate
A few years back I sent the following letter to the Minister of Sustainable Development in the previous government, alerting them to the abuse of the Assiniboine Corridor WMA - at Souris Mouth by inconsiderate gun enthusiasts for target practice and general mayhem.
Today the situation is worse. This historically important and beautiful site is being trashed. The attached photos show destruction of signage and litter ... hundreds of shell casings - beer cans and cigarette packages.
The vandalism sends a clear message as to what these people think about the "ecologically significant" area.
You can see this sort of message in almost every WMA I have visited.
The target practice tells us that they consider the spot their personal playground.
The area overlooking one of the most historically significant places in Southwestern Manitoba is littered with shotgun shells, and this beautiful location is being used as a garbage dump. Allowing access to vehicles makes this sort of vandalism possible, perhaps inevitable.
* On a second visit this spring we docemented this damage. We were unable to check it our on our first visit because people were shooting nearby, effectively blocking the trail.
What is needed is a comprehensive review of the purpose, use, and ultimate value of WMA’s.
I'm pretty sure neither guns nor motor vehicles enhance the life of any wildlife remaining in the WMA's. They surely don't enhance the experience of those of us who would like to enjoy the use of these areas in a responsible (and sustainable) way.
Essentially, those of us who actually care about the outdoors, about nature, about the planet, have to give way to those who so obviously don't.
I am not sure how the current policies have anything to do with Wildlife Management.
The Manitoba Government Website makes the real purpose clear:
Wildlife Management Areas exist for the benefit of wildlife and for the enjoyment of people. They play an important role in biodiversity conservation and provide for a variety of wildlife-related forms of recreation, including birding and wildlife watching. Hunting and trapping are generally permitted in WMAs, but these activities may be prohibited or restricted in a few areas. The use of vehicles, off-road vehicles, watercraft, power boats, or airboats, may be restricted in some areas. WMAs are open year round and have no entrance fees.
WMA’s are a good place to start putting the environment first.
The further degradation of sites that are ecologically and historically significant can be virtually eliminated by a few simple steps. Restrict the use of both motor vehicles and guns. Does anyone really think that the litter, vandalism and habitat damage that I have documented was caused by hikers? Bluntly put, people with guns and people with vehicles are causing the problem. Period. No one is saying that all gun owners and people who use vehicles are to blame, but allowing the activities, except under carefully considered conditions (hunting seasons), is obviously contrary to the stated purpose of the WMA’s
Should anyone have an interest in more details please follow the link to a more comprehensive report.
Contact me, and I’ll gladly take you for a tour.
In about a week I got this reply from the department...
The troubling thing about this repsonse is that it completely ignores my suggestion that we restrict those activities that are the cause of the problem.
Thanks for the response.
Increased investment for "improved Wildlife Management Area oversight" is always good. Without a change in rules however, it is likely to be wasted money.
The chance of catching anyone "in the act" is very unlikely. I was in the Souris Bend yesterday and of course there are ATV tracks all over areas where they are not supposed to go. Anyone who thinks that better signage and a few visits will deter inappropriate ATV use is dreaming, or perhaps doesn'r really understand the motivation for ATV use. ATV - All Terrain Vehicle - they are built for going off of the trails, and appeal to many people for that very reason.
This is what the government says the WMA's are for:
"Wildlife Management Areas exist for the benefit of wildlife and for the enjoyment of people. They play an important role in biodiversity conservation and provide for a variety of wildlife-related forms of recreation, including birding and wildlife watching. "
I'd be interested to hear how one would defend target shooting and racing around on ATV's and Trucks as part of that picture.
Is my Government more concerned about the rights of gun owners, and ATV / off-road enthusiasts, than with protecting natural areas and encouraging earth friendly recreational activities?
Under the status quo, people who abuse the earth are winning, and people who respect the earth are losing. (The earth is losing - thus we are all losing.)
Is that what you want?
If this Government is in any way interested in making a real change in WMA's, I would be happy to help in any way I can.