British Columbia

Illegal hunting starting early this season

Conservation officers are dealing with instances of illegal hunting and wildlife meat trafficking earlier this hunting season.

Hunting season underway and conservation officers are dealing with illegal hunting files sooner

Conservation officers say they are seeing illegal hunting incidents earlier this hunting season. (Abby Oliver)

It has been an early start for conservation officers who are trying to hunt down illegal hunters this season. 

Conservation officer Len Butler works in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and he says they have been busy dealing with an unusually high number of illegal night hunting cases.

"We are already looking at a number of investigations with hunting at night. It seems to hit the area where we are used to having nighttime hunting complaints, but this year they seem to have started early," he said.

Hunting at night or with the aid of a light is illegal under B.C.'s Wildlife Act and several other laws are usually broken during the same time, said Butler.

"It is an unsafe use of firearms. There is a lot of problems hunting at night. Unfortunately sometimes alcohol is involved. It is a whole gamut of illegal activity." 

Butler says hunters may be drawn to the challenges that come with hunting at night, or may simply want to hunt bigger antlered animals that are easier to shoot when stunned by a flashlight. 

As part of their effort to catch illegal nighttime hunters, conservation officers set up decoy programs across the province. A dummy deer is set up and when it is shot by hunters, conservation officers move in to catch them.

Illegal meat

Butler says trafficking in wild meat seems to be happening sooner this season. He says they are already investigating several cases involving the sale of moose and elk meat in Quesnel and Williams Lake — meat he says that is mostly sold to restaurant owners, who may be oblivious to the fact it is illegal.

Conservation officers say they are seeing an early start to the sale of moose and elk meat. (RCMP)

Under B.C.'s Wildlife Act it is unlawful to sell wild meat, meaning those who buy it are in unlawful possession of it.

"It is amazing the number of people that buy wildlife. Sometimes they don't realize it is illegal." said Butler.

Conservation Officers are also investigating several case of fraud after restaurant owners were cheated of meat for which they had paid.

To hear the full interview that aired on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops, listen to the audio labelled Illegal hunting season in Cariboo with the CBC's Daybreak Kamloops

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