Landowners, Hikers and Hunters
With hunting season having started, there will be many unfamiliar vehicles and people in our area making the identification of suspicious ones more complicated. Vehicles will be pulled off onto roadsides, into approaches or cruising our roadways.
Where most of you reading this article live, Wildlife Management Units 212, 310 & 312, hunting season is in full swing. Bow season (hunting with a bow only) commenced on or around September 1st and will continue until about October 31st. Rifle season commences generally on November 1st and goes for a month but there are variances for different types of big game. For the most part, hunting is allowed seven days a week. Game bird and migratory fowl have their own seasons.
Hunting regulations in Alberta have become quite involved over the years and if hunting is prevalent in your area it doesn’t hurt for landowners to review them to be familiar with what rights hunters and landowners have and don’t have. You can find the regulations online at www.albertaregulations.ca/huntingregs
Permission from a landowner is required for a hunter to hunt and/ or to enter private land. A trespassing hunter can be charged and can lose the animal they’ve harvested. More than 200 hunters are prosecuted in Alberta each year for not having landowner permission. It is generally NOT required that your land be posted with “No Hunting” signs. However it is a good idea to place signs at places that are as visible as possible on the perimeter of your land.
If a hunter wounds an animal “there is a moral obligation to pursue wounded game and a legal requirement to ensure game is retrieved and not wasted or abandoned, these obligations do not override the legal requirement to get permission to enter private land.”
The public is not allowed to harass legal hunters. My son has a friend who had permission to hunt ducks near Surrey, BC who was harassed by individuals from an environmental group. He called the authorities and the police arrested and charged the harassers. I’m also aware of an individual in our area who waved a gun at some hunters who were hunting without permission on his land. He was also charged and now has a criminal record.
If you have illegal hunters/trespassers it is best to leave the handling of the situation to either the police or to call the Report-a-Poacher line at 1-800- 642-3800. The trespasser’s vehicle should be somewhere nearby so obtain the license plate number. If it’s possible to safely use your phone to record a video of the incident it can be used as evidence. I had a conversation with a fisheries biologist a few years ago who urged me to report illegal fishing, informing me a reward can be forthcoming if a charge is laid – a conviction is not necessary.
It is unlawful to “discharge a weapon within 183m (200 yards) or cause a projectile from a weapon to pass within 183m (200 yards) of any occupied building. Owners, occupants, or persons authorized by the owner or occupant are excepted.”
It is unlawful to “discharge a firearm from or cause a projectile from a firearm to pass along or across a) a provincial highway, b) a road that is paved, oiled, graded or regularly maintained”. Particularly galling are the lazy, unscrupulous “Rubber Hunters” who cruise the roads looking for game from the road. They are most likely violating one or more regulations including having a loaded firearm in the vehicle, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, shooting across a road, trespassing to retrieve the animal, etc.
Hunting is only allowed from a half hour prior to sunrise to a half hour after sunset. The hunting regulations have a table which denotes the official sunrise/sunset times.
It is illegal to use drones for hunting purposes.
It should be noted that hunting is allowed on the public lands adjacent to us where a lot of us go hiking or biking. I was hiking with my dogs in the West Bragg Creek Trail System and did pass a bow hunter on the trail the other day. Provincial and Federal Parks as well as designated Provincial Recreation Areas (eg the McLean Creek campground area) are excepted from hunting.
If you do call the Report-a-Poacher line which is available 24 hours/ day, 7 days a week, “You can remain anonymous. However, investigations are often more successful if you provide your contact information so that an officer can follow up with you for more details. Any personal information you provide is kept confidential”.
As usual, if something/somebody strikes you as being suspicious, record the particulars and call it in. Wildlife Conservation Officers and the RCMP cannot be everywhere, and if you don’t call it in, they won’t know.
HCRCWA Board Member