The government has strengthened regulations to ensure hunters don’t use drones to help them track wildlife, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced Friday.
The province amended the Wildlife Act hunting regulation, making it illegal for people to operate or possess a drone, or use data obtained by a drone, while on a hunting or trapping expedition. It is also now illegal for a third party to use a drone to help a hunter or trapper.
Before the change, Section 27 of the Wildlife Act made it illegal to use a helicopter to hunt in British Columbia, although the province contended that drones were a kind of helicopter. The minimum fine for hunting with a helicopter or drone is $2,500 – although a first conviction could cost a hunter $250,000 and up to two years in jail.
The new rules are consistent with what most hunters practice, Thomson noted.
The B.C. Wildlife Federation, B.C. Trappers Association and Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. support the change.
“Using drones to help track your prey just isn’t part of the hunting culture in British Columbia,” said Jim Glaciar, federation president. “Hunters are respectful of wildlife and their habitat and very supportive of the steps government is taking to prevent hunters from using drones.”
“Hunters come to British Columbia to experience the wild and beautiful backcountry and participate in Fair Chase hunting,” said Scott Ellis, executive director of outfitters association. “Drones undermine the experience people have come to expect when they hunt big game in this province.”