B.C. government bans drone-assisted hunting

Hunters hoping to use a drone to track their prey will be out of luck in B.C — the provincial government has amended the Wildlife Act, making it illegal to operate or possess a drone while on a hunting expedition.

Wildlife Federation says it's a preventative measure to keep the practice from becoming a problem

B.C. is the third Canadian province to ban the use of drones while hunting. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Hunters hoping to use a drone to track their prey will be out of luck in B.C.

The provincial government has amended the Wildlife Act, making it illegal to operate or possess a drone while on a hunting expedition. It is now also illegal for third parties to supply hunters with information obtained from a drone.

The change was made to the same section of the act that bans hunting with helicopters. Both come with a minimum fine of $2,500, but first-time offenders face as much as a $250,000 fine and two years in jail.

Al Martin, director of strategic initiatives for the B.C. Wildlife Federation, said drones are not widely used for hunting, and the ban is a preventative measure to keep it that way as drones become more readily available.

"Certainly it doesn't fall within the realm of fair chase that should be conducted when hunting," Martin said.

An unfair advantage

"Fair chase" is a term used among hunters to describe an ethical approach to hunting in which wild animals in their natural habitat are given a reasonable chance to escape. Using drones to spot animals remotely violates this principle, Martin said.

"It provides an unfair advantage to a group of hunters that equip themselves with this sort of technology," he said.

Martin said mountain sheep and goats, who live in difficult alpine terrain, would be put at particular risk by drone use.

B.C. is the third province in Canada to ban drone use in hunting. Saskatchewan and Manitoba both banned the practice in 2014.

With files from Mariam Baldeh.