While the recent changes to hunting regulations won’t affect local hunters, the Ponoka Fish and Game Assn. is glad the province reversed its position on halting fishing in certain area rivers. Black Press file

Central Alberta hunters, fishers paying little heed to recent changes

Government bans spears, makes other regulatory changes for wild game hunting

An update to Alberta’s big game hunting regulations won’t really affect any local hunters.

Earlier this month, the province amended what specific equipment can be used for hunting following a highly publicized 2016 video that surfaced of an American showing off after getting a baited bear with a spear.

Beginning with the coming hunting season, only rifles, shotguns and conventional archery gear will be legal to use with all forms — including spears and spear-throwing tools — being banned. As well, a new standard requiring shotgun pellets be over 0.24 inches in diameter has been put in the regulations when it comes to hunting down big game.

As far as the Ponoka Fish and Game Association (PFGA) is concerned, those change are not going to affect any of the hunters in the region or in most of Alberta for that matter.

“There are very little in the way of changes that will be an issue for any hunters we know,” said Ray Abt, big game director.

“The ban on spears will make no difference to all but one or two individuals that people have heard of recently.”

However, while the government agrees with that idea, it felt obligated to make the change in order to discourage any more reckless actions as well as reducing any unnecessary suffering by animals.

“Responsible hunting is part of Alberta’s cultural heritage, playing an important role in our province’s wildlife management and conservation efforts,” said Alberta environment and parks minister Shannon Phillips in a release, noting that about 90 per cent of the 118,000 annual hunters in the province reside in Alberta.

“Albertans know that good hunting is safe hunting. Modernizing our hunting regulations will ensure safety and prevent game from experiencing undue suffering.”

Between the time the video surfaced and last month, the government received over 3,900 public responses as it gathered input on potential regulation changes, with the vast majority favouring the spear prohibition.

For anyone found and convicted of using a non-legal weapon could face up to a $50,000 fine and/or 12 months in jail. If the offence involved a threatened or endangered species, those penalties double.

No fishing change

One good thing about the regulatory review, Abt noted, is that the province has rescinded a proposal to eliminate fishing in several central Alberta rivers.

“The government had stated it would ban fishing in a number of trout rivers in the region,” he said.

“However, that isn’t happening now as the government found out that none of the species in those rivers are being over-fished and that the majority of people doing the fishing are seniors and young people, so there isn’t any real chance of those fish disappearing any time soon.”

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