FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced this morning that the province has strengthened regulations to ensure that hunters do not use flying drones to track wildlife.
The Province amended the Wildlife Act hunting regulation, making it illegal for people to operate or possess a drone, or use data obtained by a drone, while on a hunting or trapping expedition. It is also now illegal for a third party to use a drone to help a hunter or trapper. The announcement means that B.C. has now joined Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador as a jurisdiction that allows the use of drones while hunting. The B.C. Wildlife Federation, B.C. Trappers Association and Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. all came out in support of the change.
“Hunters come to British Columbia to experience the wild and beautiful backcountry and participate in Fair Chase hunting,” said Director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., Scott Ellis. “Drones undermine the experience people have come to expect when they hunt big game in this province.” Ellis’ sentiment was echoed by Jim Glaciar, President of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, who said that “using drones to help track your prey just isn’t part of the hunting culture in British Columbia. Hunters are respectful of wildlife and their habitat and very supportive of the steps government is taking to prevent hunters from using drones.”
Previously, under Section 27 of the Wildlife Act, it was only illegal to use a helicopter to hunt in B.C., although the province contended that drones are a type of helicopter. Drones are small, remote or GPS-controlled aircraft that can be equipped to send digital images to the operator, and are most often seen used as an aerial videography tool. The minimum fine for hunting with a helicopter or drone is $2,500, up to a maximum fine of $250,000, as well as up to two years in jail.