Hunting season on a number of animals have officially opened up in the East Kootenay, and it’s important that hunters and backcountry users alike respect each others rights and follow the standard safety procedures when out recreating this fall.
“People do have to do a little homework,” Columbia Valley conservation officer Greg Kruger said.
In British Columbia, geographical areas are broken down into what are known as management units, most of which have their own rules and regulations for what animals may be hunted, and when. Numerous hunting seasons started on September 10 and have various durations. The majority of hunting in this area falls into management units 4-26, stretching from just south of the Village of Canal Flats to north of the Village of Radium Hot Springs, and includes the area west along Horsethief Creek and Findlay Creek; management unit 4-25, which lies to the east of Highway 93/95, and management units 4-34 and 4-35, which stretch north past Golden. Hunting regulations in all of the management units frequently change from year to year, as species populations fluctuate and the province releases new guidelines.
“The province does different kinds of population estimates, from aerial surveys during different times of the year… to surveys that they’ll give out to resident hunters,” Kruger said. “From that, that is the basis for how long the open seasons are for, or if there is going to be an open season for a certain animal. If there is a population or conservation concern, then either there is no hunting season for that given species or sex, or point restrictions on certain animals.”
When looking at the hunting synopsis for this year, there is one particular change from previous years that Kruger wants to highlight for local hunters — only mule deer buck with four-point antlers can be hunted in management unit 4-26 for this year’s open season.
“Management unit 4-26 does not go to any mule deer buck this year, it stays at four-point buck,” Kruger said. “Because of conservation concerns from the province with the number of mature mule deer down a bit in 4-26, it’s staying at 4-point buck and doesn’t go to any buck.”
Municipalities and communities also have their own rules and regulations for hunters when inside municipal boundaries. For example, Radium and Invermere are no-shooting or hunting areas, while Windermere is only a no-shooting area, meaning bow hunting is allowed. There are also general rules about how close to residences, schools churches and other areas hunters may hunt or discharge firearms. All of this information can be found on the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources website at www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/hunting/regulations by navigating to the synopsis for any particular region.
“I tell everyone they should have a copy of the hunting regulations with them, because it changes from year to year,” Kruger said.
When it comes to backcountry use, the vast majority of Crown land is open for hunting, meaning that if you head into the brush outside of a municipality you are likely sharing that space with hunters. Kruger said that conflicts between hunters and backcountry users are rare, as the first rule for hunters is to identify their target, but incidents can happen. Anyone with any concerns or issues regarding hunting in the backcountry can report it by calling 1-877-952-7277, or 1-877-952-RAPP.
“A word of caution to people who are not hunting or are hunters in the backcountry, is that it never hurts to be a little more visible by wearing certain colours that are a little brighter,” Kruger said. “With pets, because there is open season on wolves and coyotes and animals like that, if people are walking their dogs — especially off the leash — it’s good to put a highly visible item on your dog.”
All hunters that are B.C. residents must pass a basic hunters’ education course before being able to obtain a B.C. resident hunter number card and hunting licence. In B.C., the program is known as CORE, or Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education, and is offered in several places in the Columbia Valley, including Radium Hot Springs.
For more information and to obtain the CORE program manual, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/hunting/resident/education.html.