A change to hunting regulations to make the pursuit more accessible to youth and first-time hunters isn’t a win situation, says the president of the Trail Wildlife Association.
Although Terry Hanik acknowledged the impetus behind the province-wide change as a way to get more people involved in hunting, he felt a free-for-all attitude could ensue.
The changes to the Youth Hunting Licence now make it available for youth aged 10 to 17 years inclusive. Previously, the age range of the youth (‘junior’) hunting licence was 10 to 13 years.
The amendments also create a new Initiation Hunting Licence, a mentoring licence that allows a person 18 years or older who has never previously held a hunting licence in B.C. to try hunting for a one-year period. It is a one-time-only licence.
“This just means more people out there shooting and whether they get animals or not … it’s too easy for everybody, there’s no training,” Hanik said. “And, as a result, I don’t think those people will keep it up after a year of free hunting.”
Hanik also pointed to the dwindling number of mule deer in the region as another reason not to throw open the doors to more hunters.
“The game isn’t out there. It might be in other places, but not here,” he said. “Our deer count is down and has been dropping for a few years.”
The changes to the Youth Hunting Licence are expected to make it easier for youth ages 14 to 17 to give hunting a try and to have more mentorship opportunities.
The regulatory amendments to the Wildlife Act also benefit resident hunters and represent an opportunity for those new to hunting to try the experience with a limited commitment and under the supervision of an experienced mentor, said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, in a press release.
“It is anticipated that the new licence options will promote hunting uptake among B.C. residents and provide another opportunity for families to get out and enjoy B.C.’s backcountry.”
Although Hanik spoke for the local association—the B.C. Wildlife Federation supports the change—he will still take the change to the local membership on March 25 for feedback. Hunting regulation changes will be discussed at that meeting to deal with the lower count of mule deer in the area.
The government is introducing the new Initiation Hunting Licence at $19 ($15 licence fee plus $4 Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation surcharge). The cost of the Youth Hunting Licence is still only $7.