Hunters in Richmond must now have $5 million in insurance and can be fined up to $50,000 for any hunting bylaw offences – up from a previous maximum of $2,000.
But some Richmondites who live close to permitted hunting areas appealed to Richmond city council to consult more with people in their neighbourhood about hunting safety and illegal hunting.
Hunting is only allowed in certain designated areas in Richmond - with the permission of the property owners - by people who’ve completed the “Hunting by Permission” program administered by the Richmond Rod and Gun Club.
A resident of Finn Road, Teresa Murphy, claimed hunting is taking place on some big properties – like along the CN line and on large agricultural properties – although the respective property managers have told her permission hasn’t been granted.
Murphy told council the hunting regulations are a “property rights issue” and not enough consultation or engagement has been done with people living in the area, many of whom have small hobby farms.
Gunfire disturbs bees and bats – needed for pollination and insect control respectively – and there is less wildlife in the area than there used to be, for example, coyotes, raccoons and skunks, she explained to council.
“The volleys of repeated, deafening cracks of gunfire drive wildlife from their dens along Woodwards Slough and the fields,” she said, adding when illegal hunters trespass, not only is their gunfire disturbing, “they destroy the fragile ecosystem.”
The RCMP have warned residents in her area of gang activity, but when Murphy hears gunfire, she doesn’t know if it’s illegal hunters or gang activity, so sometimes she just ignores it.
Previously fines could be given out to a maximum of $2,000 and only $1 million in insurance was required.
While council voted 8-1 to pass the hunting bylaw amendments – Coun. Michael Wolfe voted against it – some councillors, however, said the map outlining the area isn’t very clear and asked city staff to create a better one.
In addition to the map improvements, council also asked staff to do more consultation with farmers and other stakeholders and looks at the rules, the area for hunting, enforcement strategies, education and getting more effective signage.
In November, police swarmed a mega-mansion on No. 4 Road after gunfire was heard in the area.
A man was allegedly shooting snow geese from his home.
RCMP point out there have been no hunting-related charges laid in three years despite 28 calls for shots fired in Richmond’s designated hunting areas - the November incident was still being investigated in late spring.
Hunting of waterfowl is permitted in large swaths of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), south of Steveston between Gilbert and Shell roads, and in areas of northeast Richmond.
Anyone who hunts in Richmond must go through the “Hunting by Permission” program run by the Richmond Rod and Gun Club., which checks they have a federal license, a B.C. conservation and recreation education certificate as well as other permits and licenses as well as $5 million in insurance.
The hunter must have permission from the property owner where they wish to hunt – but this is only allowed in areas designated by the city.
Twenty-two hunting by permission passes were issued during the last hunting season.
- with files from Alan Campbell & Graeme Wood