Export permit difficulties endanger Yukon Game Farm

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2002

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - After operating the Yukon Game Farm for more than 30 years, owners Danny and Uli Nowlan don't know how they will make it through the winter.

The farm is in jeopardy because the owners say they can't export the animals they've sold to buyers in Japan, Germany and other regions of Canada.

"The farm cannot survive without revenue," Nowlan said Thursday during a news conference at the Takhini Hot Springs Road game farm.

Each fall, the Nowlans sell some of their animals, which covers the farms operation costs. The only other income for the farm is through tourism.

"The two main sources of income have been the sale of captive-bred animals to zoos and game farms all over the world, where we have established a reputation for providing healthy and strong animals," Nowlan said. "Selling surplus animals has always been part of the normal farm operation and provides for the larger part of its income."

The Nowlans were expecting to raise about $100,000 from the sales, according to the Whitehorse Star.

On Sept. 2, the couple sought an export permit for muskox, which are game farm animals. Then, on Sept. 30, the farm's application to export non-game farm animals was denied after the animals, including caribou, mountain goats and sheep, had all the veterinary work done for export.

Further export permits were denied by the Canadian Department of Environment as well.

Nowlan said he was told that the new Wildlife Act does not allow the issuance of export permits until new regulations are adopted.

The Wildlife Act was adopted last year, but regulations have yet to be passed. Nowlan said the new regulations might not be in place until April.

He said there had never been a problem with exporting the animals over the last three decades. But by denying the export permits, the sale of the game farm has also been put on hold.

The Nowlans announced last February they want to sell the farm for $3 million. Friends of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, a group that wants the farm to stay in the hands of Yukoners, is working to find buyers. But Bill Klassen, president of the society, said it's unlikely a sponsor could be found to help purchase a facility that's not self-sustaining anymore.

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