Hunting has been added to the growing list of essential services able to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jesse Zeman of the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) said the BCTF and other partners have been engaging various levels of government and the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) for the last three weeks to advocate for the benefits of hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors within the constraints of COVID-19.
“This is great news, but also means we all need to be cognizant of how COVID-19 has changed responsible fishing and hunting practices,” stated Zeman in a news release Thursday, April 23.
BC Wildlife Federation president Bill Bosch said he’s happy hunting and fishing are now listed as essential services but also understands with the listing comes great responsibility and scrutiny.
“As responsible citizens and conservationists, we need to ensure these activities are conducted within the guidelines set out by the PHO,” he said.
The provincial government describes essential services as “daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning. They are the services British Columbians come to rely on in their daily lives.”
Hunting is under the category of Food and Agriculture Service Providers in the list of essential services.
The BCWF asks licensed hunters and anglers to inform themselves with regards to the PHO guidelines. Advice and information on hunting and fishing responsibly can be found on the BCWF website and the BC Government website.
Zeman said the BCWF will continue to advocate on behalf of hikers, hunters and anglers with various levels of government and believes the provincial government should be finding ways to allow B.C. residents to stay local, get outside safely and enjoy public spaces, such as provincial parks.
“It is imperative that British Columbians have access to outdoor areas to secure healthy, organic protein, and give them a physical and mental reprieve from the effects of COVID-19,” states the news release.
In the Cariboo Chilcotin region ice fishermen have been unable to use government rec centres to access fishing opportunities during the pandemic so far.
Additionally, provincial parks also remain closed for camping.