Substantial changes in hunting regulations proposed in new year

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Angling, Hunting and Trapping has announced a series of proposed changes to angling, hunting and trapping regulations and policies.

Based on regional requirements and conditions, the intent of these regulation adjustments is to promote the conservation of wildlife and their habitats, while also protecting sustainable hunting and trapping conditions.

Doug Clovechok, the MLA representing the district of Columbia River-Revelstoke, is very passionate about these changes and wildlife conservation, and supports many of the proposed modifications.

“If there’s one issue that comes to mind that should be a non-partisan issue in this province, it’s got to be about the conservation and protection of wildlife,” said Clovechok. “No government, no one party, has given this issue the credibility or the attention it needs, or frankly the funding. It’s high time we do that.”

The changes come as a result of a conference held prior to the 2017 election, which saw parties from across the province, not just political but also hunters and conservationists alike, come together to come up with a strategy. They adopted a process similar to what’s been done in states such as Montana and Wyoming, who have had great success in wildlife conservation.

The conference resulted in the creation of an organization outside of the government, while still under the auspice of it, so that it may receive and use philanthropic funds in the name of conservation.

“Hunters deserve better, and more importantly, the wildlife in this province deserve better,” said Clovechok. “There isn’t a conservationist or a hunter that won’t tell you that.”

The Columbuia River-Revelstoke district is located in Region 4- Kootenay, where there will be 35 proposed changes to hunting and trapping regulations. These regulations cover everything from the start date of trapping season for multiple animals, to the outright closure of hunting season on endangered species.

Notably, the new regulations bans the feeding and baiting of turkeys in the Kootenay region, as well as the feeding and baiting of ungulates in the region. It also regulates the use of scopes on bows, not just for Region 4 – Kootenay, but province wide.

Clovechok believes that these changes aren’t enough to help curb the rapid loss of wildlife occurring province wide.

“These new regulations, in my humble opinion and with all due respect, don’t go far enough,” said Clovechok. “They’re a band-aid option, the issue is still hemorrhaging. We need an approach based on science, and not one based on personal opinion and not on emotion.”

Clovechok personally supports the ban on baiting animals, which he believes is not a fair way to hunt. He also conditionally supports the ban on the feeding of ungulates, but does support feeding during tough winters, similar to the winter in 2017/2018.

It has been proven through research that the feeding of animals such as ungulates, leads to higher density populations of these animals, which results in increased potential for transmission of infectious parasites and diseases. Baiting can have a similar affect.

The ban can also help curb issues that are caused by feeding and baiting, as animals can be become dependent on the feedings. Sudden changes in feeding can also cause digestive issues. It would also deter ungulates from entering into urban areas, which often leads to conflict between the urban development and the wildlife.

Despite agreeing with this, Clovechok finds some of the new regulations strange and unhelpful, such as the banning of scopes on crossbows. Crossbows are incredibly lethal and easy to use due to developments in technology over the years, and the ban on scopes is intended to reduce their effectiveness instead of outright banning them.

“I think it has unintended consequences on the 65 plus population whose eyes aren’t what they used to be,” said Clovechok, who is a hunter himself and is approaching 65 years of age. “I think that needs to be looked at and changed to being a ban for those 65 or under, because it does discriminate at some level.”

Clovechok also anticipates that the declining animal populations could have an impact on tourism in the region, as people often come to the mountains not just for scenery and skiing, but to experience rural living and witness wildlife. With the decline in wildlife and the decline in wildlife sightings, tourists may lose one of their incentives to come and visit the region.

“We’ve got to get people together from tourism, from everywhere,” said Clovechok. “We did that in 2017, and all those people agreed that we needed to do something different, and yet here we are, doing the same thing again and again and again. It’s not going get us to where we need.”

The regulations would be in effect from 2020 to 2022, and are available online on the BC government website. There is an open public comment period, which offers the opportunity to the public, not just hunters and trappers affiliated with the stakeholder groups, to have input into the proposed changes. The public comment period will end January 17, 2020. Feedback will be collected through the website.

Those who want their opinions heard can also contact Clovechok by sending him an email, which he will bring forward to the proper decision makers.

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