Sam Fait uses a traditional rifle on a goat hunt this past fall. (Photo submitted)

B.C. government targets province-wide prohibition of precision guided firearms for hunting

Use of PGFs not considered by hunting stakeholders to fall within the principles of fair chase

The provincial government is considering proposing a province-wide prohibition of precision guided firearms for all hunting, and is looking for public feedback.

Precision guided firearms (PGF) are long-range rifle systems designed to improve the accuracy of shooting at targets at extended ranges through target tracking, heads-up display and advanced fire control. PGFs can significantly increase first shot success probability out to extreme ranges of 1,200 yards or more, according to several websites on the use of PGFs.

The proposed regulation was requested by the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team which has taken a closer look at hunting and the use of the firearms, which act as a range finder and condition sensor (such as wind speed/direction, humidity, temperature, distance and target movement), automatically adjusting the reticle so that a hunter only needs to depress the trigger, lock on to the target, and the firearms discharges automatically.

“Precision guided firearms provide an advantage over traditional scopes. With a computerized scope the dedication required to become an accurate shooter is significantly diminished, and it gives shooters confidence to shoot from much greater distances,” states the ministry in its rationale for the prohibition. “There is a risk that shooting wildlife from long distances reduces the hunter’s ability to track, find, and retrieve the harvested animal. While these scopes are potentially a benefit for the recreational or competitive shooter, for hunting they are not considered by hunting stakeholders to fall within the principles of fair chase.”

Web Poll: Do you agree with the government’s proposal to prohibit precision guided firearms for hunting?

“Technology related to firearms has advanced significantly in recent years. There are precision guided firearms on the market that account for all the variables associated with discharging a firearm (wind speed/direction, humidity, temperature, distance, target movement, etc.) and determine, electronically, the moment the bullet is fired when the shooter places the cross hairs in the correct location.”

Read More:Ministry proposes ‘conservative’ elk hunt on private land in northeast Cariboo

A sub-committee of the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team (PHTAT) with representatives from the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., B.C. Trappers Association, Wild Sheep Society, Wildlife Stewardship Council, and United Bowhunters of B.C., conducted a review of various hunting practices (methods, tools, and tactics), evaluated those practices against a set of criteria that reflect the principles of fair chase, and recommended management actions for specific hunting practices, states the ministry. These recommendations were accepted by the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team and forwarded to the Province for consideration.

Factors that influenced or informed the Management Action Recommendation included:

“Does the hunting method, tool, or tactic:

Negate wildlife’s ability to avoid detection?

Negate wildlife’s ability to escape once it has detected a threat?

Lead to an inhumane treatment of wildlife?

Lead to increased wounding loss/jeopardize a hunter’s ability to retrieve the wildlife?

Jeopardize public acceptance of hunting?

Result in higher harvest rates/reduced opportunity in the future?

Estimated difficulty in enacting a regulation.

Regulatory enforceability.

The Management Action options available for each hunting practice included:

Encourage/discourage the hunting practice through education and/or training

Regulate the hunting practice through legislative prohibitions

Monitor the hunting practice over the coming years to see if it becomes an issue in B.C.

Defer; not of concern and no specific management action or monitoring is required.”

There are currently no regulations that prohibit precision guided firearms for the purpose of hunting in B.C.

The public comment period will end Jan. 17, 2020.

Read More: Public input sought on hunting regulation changes in Region 5 and around the province


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