The mandate of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association (MLOA) is to offer a unified voice on behalf of the province's many lodges and outfitters. But its efforts go much further than that. I recently spoke with executive director Paul Turenne and found out how the MLOA benefits all Manitobans with an interest in the outdoors.
Q: The MLOA recently partnered with several other organizations to support the TIP (Turn in Poachers) program. What's being done to beef up the project, and why is this important to the MLOA?
A: There were roughly 100 signs that went up across Manitoba earlier this year advertising the Turn in Poachers hotline (1-800-782-0076). These signs were placed in areas like boat launches, trailheads and public docks, as well as at some of our lodge properties. The idea is not only to encourage people to call the hotline when they witness poaching, but it's also to send the message poaching should not be tolerated and no one should turn a blind eye to it. We don't necessarily expect convictions will skyrocket because of this, but we want as many people as possible to see these signs and to think about poaching and its effect on our fish and wildlife populations.
Q: Under the MLOA's Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund (HAPF), you've recently supported a few other projects. Can you tell me about those?
A: Part of the money to pay for these TIP signs came from our Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund. One of the others was a donation split between the youth angling organization Generation Next Angler and the Urban Angling Partnership, both of which encourage kids to get involved in fishing. Another of the projects we committed funding to is still in the works, and that is an effort to resurrect the black bear aging and reproduction study the province conducted for many years up until a few years ago. We are still in discussions with the province about the possibility of bringing that back, and the money we set aside for it through HAPF remains on the table. The final project that received funding was to help close decommissioned logging roads in the Duck Mountains to help protect moose from poachers, but that project ended up getting fully funded through another source, and so our portion will be returned to HAPF and re-allocated during the next round of applications.
Q: I'm sure a lot of folks think the MLOA is only around to benefit owners of lodges and outfitting businesses in Manitoba. Can you fill me in on some of the other work you do, namely lobbying?
A: You are correct that our main function is to represent the interests of lodges and outfitters, but some of our lobbying efforts also touch more generally on related topics, such as fish and wildlife conservation, tourism, small business, rural and northern development and environmental issues. We also maintain close contact with other organizations such as the Manitoba Wildlife Federation, Manitoba Trappers Association, Safari Club International, Fish Futures, Ducks Unlimited and the like, and help support their efforts in certain cases. We don't always agree on everything as we each have our own constituencies, but there is a lot of overlap there, and we do support their lobbying efforts at times, just as they support some of ours.
Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food. You can reach her with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.