Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) is proposing a no shooting area with archery only on the outskirts of Williams Lake for the 2022 hunting regulations.
The WLFN is part of the Cariboo Region Wildlife Advisory Committee (WAC) and will be bringing the proposal to a meeting in April.
“Williams Lake First Nation is not against hunting, and realize that this activity is important to First Nations and Non-First Nations alike. However, we would like everyone to enjoy the outdoors and be safe,” said John Walker, WLFN stewardship forester in a letter requesting support for the regulation change.
He cited that Williams Lake is well known for its mountain biking and as well as the bikers, hikers enjoy using the trail networks.
“There has also been a lot of fuel management projects occurring in these areas to help keep our community safe from wildfires, with many more treatments planned.”
Sgt. Jeff Tyre with the Conservation Officer Service said the WAC is a multi-stakeholder and multi-Nation committee.
The committee will be discussing multiple proposed regulation changes that, if implemented, would take effect for the 2022 hunting and trapping season.
He said archery-only areas can be implemented where there are significant safety concerns related to rifle hunting, although there are existing ‘blanket’ safety regulations in place throughout B.C. such as no discharge of firearms within 100 metres of a school, church, dwelling, etc. and no discharge or hunting within road allowances or maintained roads.
“Increasing numbers of urban deer in and near Williams Lake is a concern to wildlife managers and will be discussed in relation to the WLFN proposal,” Tyre said.
While the COS has not received many complaints about dangerous use of a firearm in and around Williams Lake, it does receive a significant number of human-deer conflict calls each year, he added.
City council received Walker’s letter during its regular meeting Tuesday, March 9, but referred it to the Cariboo Regional District because the proposed changes would occur outside of the city’s boundaries. Mayor Walt Cobb, however, did say his only concern was how the ‘no shooting’ zone would be policed.
“I know First Nations have different hunting regulations than we do so is it Williams Lake First Nation who have to police it, is it our conservation officers and how does that work when they are from outside the community of Williams Lake First Nation?”
Coun. Craig Smith said he uses the trailforks app which shows the areas where people are biking and hiking through.
“Most hunters are responsible enough to not be hunting in the areas where they are asked not to,” Smith said.
Cobb said the city has the same ‘no shooting’ restrictions already within city boundaries.