Hunting practices concern neighbours

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Island hunters have just a few days left to make their bag limit before the season on black-tailed deer ends on Dec. 10, but some residents are wondering whether the hunt is still appropriate for Salt Spring’s increasing population.

Janet Simpson farms directly across the road from the large open fields at the base of the Channel Ridge development along Sunset Drive. She said hunters who come out for the plentiful deer known to gather there don’t always follow the rules and don’t seem to know what they’re doing, which means wounded deer fleeing the scene are hiding and dying on other private acreages such as her own. The safety of other animals and people is also an issue.

“I think it’s offensive to have shooting in a neighbourhood. There are just too many people around,” Simpson said.

Bryce Chapman owns 80 acres off Channel Ridge, including 60 acres of grassland. He has seen as many as 200 deer on his property at the highest count.

“There are no predators for deer, so if they don’t get culled they just get diseased and sick,” Chapman said.

There are currently three people to whom Chapman has given permission to hunt on his land, and all have the required hunting and firearms licenses.

“They take the meat for their families, which is an important part of reducing their food costs,” Chapman said. “I would never let anyone come out here unless they know what they’re doing.”

Sgt. Scott Norris, a B.C. conservation officer for the south Vancouver Island zone, said his branch had not received any complaints about hunting on Salt Spring for all of 2018.

“It’s hard to respond if we don’t know stuff is going on,” Norris said.

Norris said anyone who has a firearms licence should be aware of four cardinal rules, one of which is knowing what’s beyond your intended target to ensure nothing else gets harmed. He noted hunters should also have a special Gulf Islands hunting licence and be aware of rules such as no shooting 100 metres from a house or farm building, or within 15 metres of the centre line of a road.

If anyone does have complaints they should call the 24-hour RAPP line (for Report All Poachers and Polluters) at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

For more on this story, see the Dec. 5, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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