Changes to hunting regulations will have a major impact on moose hunting in B.C.’s northeast.
For one year, there will be limited entry hunting for moose in the Peace region rather than a general open season, the Ministry of Forests stated in a press release on May 19. This means that interested moose pursuers will be entered into a draw and only successful applicants will be awarded permits.
The new regulations have also closed moose hunting in the Peace region for the month of August and the first half of October.
In previous years any licensed hunter could go to the area and try to shoot a moose between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31, without having to enter a draw.
Other changes in the region this year include a closure on caribou hunting and closures to moose hunting in key areas around the Peace Moberly Tract and Moose Lake.
“The hunting regulation changes in northeastern B.C. are an interim measure and part of broader actions to improve wildlife stewardship, uphold Treaty rights and enhance habitat conservation,” stated the Ministry of Forests.
Not having an open season in the Peace region is going to put more pressure on other areas, said David Lewis, president of the BC Wildlife Federation for the Skeena region.
In a press release, the Ministry of Forests said the decisions “were informed by extensive engagement with the public, First Nations, the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, and the BC Wildlife Federation.”
Lewis does not believe that the proposed changes are based on science.
The hunting regulation changes came after the Blueberry River First Nation won a court case against the province that claimed that the cumulative effects of industrial development infringed on their rights.
“So instead of going in and dealing with industrialization, the government, in its infinite wisdom came back and said, ‘We’re going to take resident hunters off the land,’” Lewis said.
Less drastic regulation changes were made in other northern areas.
In the Skeena south region limited entry hunting will replace the current general open season from Oct. 20 to 22 and the bow-only general open seasons in September and November.
The province stated the changes will alleviate some of the First Nations’ concerns regarding over-harvest.
“Several years ago, or so, we went from a seven-day general open season to a three-day open season, but the three-day season still allowed local residents the opportunity to go out and hunt, locally. Now there is no opportunity to hunt within the area. It now becomes, either you put in for the draw, hope for the best, or you’re going to be going north,” Lewis said.
Lewis fears the changes will have a significant impact on resident hunters and he said that the BC Wildlife Federation passed a resolution to approach the ministry about resident priority, specifically in relation to guide outfitters.
Moose hunters in the Parsnip Valley of the Omineca region will see new regulations to end hunting seasons for antler-less moose, which includes cows and calves. The valley is part of a caribou recovery project and so the province has stated that if an increase in moose leads to an increase in wolves in the area, they will consider reintroducing hunting antler-less moose.
Also in the Omineca region, there will be two weeks added to the limited entry hunting of elk in areas where the animals are most severely damaging farms and ranches.