Frustration is no excuse for hunters to poach

I’m getting the impression there are a lot of frustrated hunters out there this year.

I’m getting the impression there are a lot of frustrated hunters out there this year, but shooting at game that’s not in season is no way to vent your feelings.

There have been way too many incidents of poaching this year, particularly of moose around the Okanagan, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it.

It’s exciting to see one of the big animals, but don’t shoot at it unless you’ve first put the scope or the binoculars on it to make sure it’s only a spike fork, not a cow with funny ears or a larger bull.

Despite a lovely fall during which it’s been a delight to tramp through the forest in the back country around Kelowna, many have not found it to be a productive hunting season locally.

Those who headed up north or into the Kootenays seem to have had more success, but even the conservation officers who set up road checks on back roads here say they haven’t seen a lot of game go through.

Last weekend, they were on the Westside, along Bear Main and said they checked 65 hunters and only four mule deer.

They were pleased to find that most were in compliance with the regulations. However, I’m not sure how they can enforce regulations when there aren’t any Management Unit signs left on even the main back roads.

I know the ministry has been decimated by budget cuts in recent years, but that’s ridiculous.

I’m told there’s a move afoot for local fish and game clubs to fund and maintain the signs that tell you which fish and wildlife management unit you’re in, but I find it hard to believe funding can’t be done for such a basic activity so we can enforce the laws we have in place to protect fish and game.

I shouldn’t be surprised though when other resource ministries also rely on “best management practices” to protect the environment instead of independent monitoring by government of the companies using our natural resources.

Conservation officers also found a rarity this week in the valley bottom—a grizzly bear or two have wandered in to scrounge for fruit in the orchards and vineyards, alongside the black bears we’ve come to expect at this time of year, as they fatten up for hibernation.

CO Terry Myroniuk made quite an amazing discovery though when he snared that grizzly last weekend in Lake Country: it had four webbed paws, along with the typical long, curved claws of the grizzly bear.

He was also not just tipped with blond hairs as grizzlies frequently are, he was actually blond on his back and face with darker legs: quite beautiful.

Here’s hoping that he’ll take his relocation to heart.

The last time we trapped a grizzly in Kelowna and relocated him, he made his way right back down into the valley again the next year, surfacing in a chicken coop in Naramata where he caused considerable damage and was shot.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.