Drones are not allowed to be used by hunters or trappers to track wildlife in B.C. thanks to stronger regulations introduced by the forestry minister Friday.
“We have to make sure that our regulations keep pace with technology,” Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson said of the decision to ban the use of remote or GPS controlled equipment that can send digital images to the operator. “These changes help ensure that the rules are in line with what most hunters already practice.”
Under the amended Wildlife Act it will be illegal for people to operate or possess a drone, or use data obtained by a drone, while hunting or trapping.
It is also illegal for a third party to use a drone to help a hunter or trapper identify where animals are located.
For Barry Jenkins, a past president with the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association, the strengthened regulation makes sense.
“The use of aircraft is banned because it does not fit in with the principle of fair chase. I can see that it would be possible to use a drone in the same way as an aircraft.”
Even the use of a radio to direct someone else when an animal is around, is not considered fair, Jenkins added.
“You can only use a radio for emergency purposes or to communicate and keep track of one another.”
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 ministry of forests noted. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario,and Newfoundland and Labrador have already banned hunters from using drones.