Hunting rules come under fire

Councillors squabble over possibly ban on trapping and hunting

A Vernon politician has taken aim at proposed restrictions on hunting and trapping.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe challenged Coun. Catherine Lord’s call Monday for a ban on trapping and tighter rules for bow hunters and people carrying bear spray.

“We’re responding to something that is rare. I find it a reaction and over-kill,” said O’Keefe.

O’Keefe was particularly upset that city rules may make it illegal to carry bear spray, or other irritant gases, in specific locations although she says there may be a  need for people to have those devices.

“We’re going to make a lot of honest citizens into criminals by over-regulating things,” she said.

Clint Kanester, bylaw enforcement manager, says the proposal would allow for sprays to be used in rural areas to protect people from wildlife but the police want the substances banned in urban settings.

“They are used by people in the drug trade to protect themselves,” he said.

“It has the potential to be used more as a weapon than for defence.”

Lord supports the proposed rules and believes residents will still have access to the sprays.

“If I had to use it, I’d be willing to pay the fine,” she said.

But that brought a sharp response from O’Keefe, who referred to federal legislation.

“If you are using it inappropriately, it’s already against the law,” she said.

“I resent this piling of laws on laws when it’s already addressed in the Criminal Code.”

In terms of trapping, city staff will develop a bylaw to ban body-gripping devices except when used by qualified wildlife officers.

“I want citizens to be aware that they can’t just use any old trap they have laying around to control people’s pets,” said Lord, adding that her concern is safety for pets and residents.

“There are proper processes to deal with these matters.”