Hunters in the Yukon will have to rely on their own eyes to spot game, and no longer an eye in the sky provided by a drone.
The controversial issue of hunting with a drone is common in parts of rural Canada, and that’s why this northern territory abolished the practice with new regulations that came into place last month.
The use of an aircraft to find wildlife is already illegal in the Yukon, but the territory was forced to further clarify that drones, also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are included under aircraft.
Ryan Hennings, Manager of Enforcement and Compliance at the Conservation Officer Services branch of the Yukon government, said all types of aircraft give hunters an unfair advantage over the wildlife they’re tracking.
“It’s an ethical question and a fair chase question,” said Hennings.
So what would breaking this law mean for violators?
Individual hunters can be fined upwards of $50,000 for violating legislation, and people hunting for commercial reasons would be facing fines up to $100,000. Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan have also banned hunting with drones.
Now that the Yukon has clamped down on the practice, what about in the other territories? According to at least one writer, it isn’t really an issue elsewhere.
“The Department of Environment in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut says there’s no specific regulations preventing the use of drones in their jurisdiction, but that there’s been no reports to date of drones being used to harvest wildlife in the territory,” says Eilís Quinn of Eye on the Arctic.
But a spokesperson added the department would be willing to introduce regulations should this become a problem in the future.
In the Northwest Territories, (NWT) authorities will be carefully considering this issue as the technology becomes increasingly popular. To date, there is nothing in NWT’s regulations that prohibit using a drone with the purpose to hunt.
“The territory’s Wildlife Act Working Group and Wildlife Act Advisory Group have considered the issue and believe the need, or not, to have restrictions around drone use should be explored further. The government will be conducting consultations on Phase 2 of the Wildlife Act this winter and will examine the issue of drone use in more detail at that time,” adds Quinn.
As of 2014, drone-assisted hunting has been illegal in Alaska.
The issue first came to light two years prior when, “a hunter took down a moose using a drone, and troopers couldn’t do anything about it because the practice wasn’t technically illegal.”
Alaska Wildlife Troopers acted quickly to get ahead of the problem, since they feared it would only become more common for hunters as they technology dropped in price.
Presently, Yukon authorities want the revised regulations to deter all from hunting this way.