The environmental group Wildsight says that changes to this year’s hunting and trapping regulations are a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done to protect vulnerable wildlife.
The updated 2020 hunting and trapping regulations recently announce by the province of British Columbia include a ban on wolverine trapping, restrictions to motor vehicles and e-bikes, and a ban on feeding ungulates.
“”The regulations are a step in the right direction towards helping to rebuild wildlife populations,” says Eddie Petryshen, Wildsight Conservation Specialist.
“The provincial government asked for citizen engagement on the regulatory changes, and the public spoke up loud and clear, leading to positive changes for wildlife.
“For example, wolverine trapping is now banned within the Kootenay and Columbia regions. Wolverine populations have declined because of habitat loss, human pressure, and trapping. By instituting this change, the Province is giving wolverines a fighting chance to rebuild.
“Wolverines weren’t the only animals given better protections. Antlerless elk (female and young elk) can’t be hunted anymore, in hopes of bolstering elk populations across the Kootenays.
“Another problem area has been people feeding or baiting ungulates including moose, goats, deer, sheep, and elk. This practice increases the threat of disease transmission (such as Chronic Wasting Disease which is now present in both Montana and Alberta) and can wreak havoc with animal’s digestive systems, sometimes causing severe sickness or even death. The Province has now banned this destructive practice.”
Petryshen says that electric bikes have become more of a problem, even as trucks, quads, and diatribes were banned from specific areas. The new hunting guide will add them to non-motorized area bans.
“E-bikes allow people to cover a lot more ground and travel further into the mountains, disturbing and displacing wildlife and making wildlife more vulnerable,” says Petryshen. “E-bikes can be a great way to get around, but they have no place in areas that are closed to other motorized vehicles.”
21 additional motor vehicle restrictions in the Kootenays were put in place this year.
“These proposed vehicle restricted areas protect important habitats for sensitive species that can’t handle the ever-increasing backcountry traffic, especially in combination with logging, mining, recreation, and hunting pressure,” remarks Petryshen.
While Wildsight is pleased with the progress, there are still issues.
“One of the major issues the Province did not move forward on was a revised start date for marten trapping,” Petryshen said. “In recent years, grizzly bears have been severely injured while trying to remove the bait from small box traps used to trap marten. If the government had pushed the start date for marten trapping until after bears are in hibernation, it could have saved needless injuries to bears. The BC government and trappers are working together to modify traps that could reduce the likelihood of grizzly bears being injured. It remains to be seen whether this will be an effective measure to reduce injuries.”
Finally, Petryshen says Wildsight is calling for standalone legislation, not just hunting and trapping regulations, that puts wildlife and ecosystem in the forefront when making decisions on other land use, such as forestry, mining, agriculture and recreation.
“Until that happens, Wildsight will continue to push for protection of our vulnerable wildlife in a province with increasing pressures from human encroachment and industrial development taking precedence over wildlife in BC.,” he said.