The province of British Columbia is ensuring no hunter has an unfair advantage by banning the use of drones when hunting. The province has made an amendment to the Wildlife Act making it illegal for any hunter to operate, possess or use data from a drone while on a hunting or trapping expedition. The amendment states it is also illegal for any third party to use a drone to help a hunter or trapper.
“It is a very good initiative because the use of drones downplays fair chase in the element of hunting. Gives the hunter an unfair advantage and that’s not what this sport is about,”said Invermere conservation officer Lawrence Umsonst.
Conservation officers in Invermere have yet to encountered anyone using drones for the purpose of hunting in the area, but have received reports of it. The reports they have received were of hunters using drones to track elk in the Kootenay Valley. These reports are something that conservation services across the province will rely on to regulate drone activity.
“Other hunters have hunting camps usually in the area during the season and we’d rely heavily on the public to report the use of drones. As with most laws, the police force and other enforcement agencies rely heavily on the public for information on these types of violations,” said Umsonst.
With technology advancing, the use of communication devices while hunting is something that hunters have been using to their advantage. Hunters have been tracking animals with trail cameras, walkie talkies and communicating animal position by cellphones. The use of drones is taking the sport to a new level.
“Looking at this from the air is far different than even communicating with land-based equipment. It’s just another avenue of really ruining the fair sport, fair chase in the sport,” said Umsonst.
The Wildlife Act defines the word hunt as “shooting at, attracting, searching for, chasing, pursuing, following after or on the trail of, stalking or lying in wait for wildlife. Or attempting to do any of those things, whether or not the wildlife is then or subsequently wounded, killed or captured. With the intention to capture the wildlife while in possession of a firearm or weapon.”
The definition of the word hunt will be used in a court of law to prosecute hunters or trappers using drones to hunt out animals. Anyone found using drones while on a hunt or trapping expedition will be charged a minimum fine of $2,500. The province warns a first conviction could cost hunters up to $250,000 and two years jail time for the offence.
“What it will mean is they will continue to hunt in a manner how they have always have hunted. It’s a tool they won’t be able to use,” said Umsonst.
Along with British Columbia, the use of drones for hunting has been banned in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. If you wish to report an incident of people using drones for the purpose of hunting contact the 24 hour report a poacher line at 1877- 952-7277.