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Stand up for animals in the 2021 election

Will you vote for animals?

This election, you have the power to vote for a kinder Canada for all animals.

Take action for animals in the election!

Contact your candidates and get familiar with each party’s election promises.

2021 is the first year that animal protection is being widely recognized as an election issue in Canada, with commitments made by a number of parties on animal issues.

This is great news for the growing number of Canadians who would like to see a more compassionate country for all who live here. In fact, a 2021 survey from World Animal Protection found that 70% of Canadians believe animal protection and welfare are somewhat or very important issues in terms of deciding who they will vote for.

You can find an overview of the animal issues being raised by advocates this year and links to all five of the main political parties’ platforms in this post from Humane Canada. The 2021 policy platform from Humane Canada offers recommendations in the following areas:

Legal framework and governance

Canada’s legislation lags behind other countries on the international stage, from the UK’s recognition of animals as sentient beings to Mexico’s recent ban on cosmetic animal testing. Recommendations in this area include creating a ministry or interdepartmental group as the central hub of animal protection in federal government.

Public safety

Evidence shows that there is a link between violence against animals and violence against humans. By formally recognizing the Violence Link, Canada can begin to take steps to ensure better public safety for both humans and animals.

Companion animals

Companion animals are a key part of many families in Canada; they share our lives and homes and offer many mental health benefits. One of the recommendations for companion animals involves ensuring access to veterinary care. Currently, people who are living on a low income who cannot afford veterinary care are often forced to make the difficult choice to surrender their beloved animal to a shelter in order to get the care they need. This practice harms both the human and the animal by breaking up their bond and discounting their mental health. The Canadian government can improve access to these essential services by implementing a federally supported preventative and affordable veterinary care strategy.

Farmed animals

Canada’s regulations around the protection of farmed animals are in need of updates and adequate enforcement. Recommendations include addressing outdated and inhumane practices currently being used in animal agriculture, such as painful confinement and excessive travel times. Animal advocates can also reduce the suffering of farmed animals by calling on the government to support a transition to and subsidies for more sustainable plant-based farming.

Wild animals

Zoonotic disease (disease transmitted from animals to humans) from wildlife accounts for at least 70 per cent of all emerging diseases, including COVID-19. The Canadian government must take action to end Canada’s part in the cruel and dangerous global wildlife trade in order to improve the well-being of animals and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Here is how you can use your voting power to speak up for animals.

Take action

1. Call on your local candidates to commit to action for animals both during and after the election.

The quick email tool to candidates has now ended. Please see the homepage for the current actions you can take to help animals.

2. Watch the animal protection debate to hear each party’s stance on animal protection.

The animal protection debate was hosted by Animal Justice, Montreal SPCA, Nation Rising, Vancouver Humane Society, and World Animal Protection on Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. PST. All parties with representation in Parliament were invited to participate. The debate was moderated by journalist Holly Lake.

You can watch a recording of the debate below:

3. Call your candidates to ask that they make animal protection a priority.

You can find the contact information for all your local candidates on the Elections Canada website. Type in your postal code and select “Who are the candidates in my electoral district?”

4. Share this page on social media with #IVoteForAnimals

5. Vote on election day!

Vancouver Humane Society is committed to working with the winning candidates to build a kinder Canada for all animals.

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Take action for animals at the New Westminster Petting Farm

Take action for animals at the Queen’s Park Petting Farm

Tell the City of New Westminster you support their move toward animal-friendly public spaces

Will you support animal-friendly public spaces in New Westminster?

Earlier this year, VHS wrote to New Westminster City Council regarding the Queen’s Park Petting Farm. We shared a briefing note highlighting our evidence-based concerns related to animal welfare, public health and safety, and public education. The note included considerations such as:

  • Petting zoos are stressful for animals, who have little or no way to escape from unwanted petting, chasing, noise, and crowds.
  • Studies show that petting zoos can host diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella and can be a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Most children who visit petting zoos do not gain any new knowledge about animals or conservation. (See these animal-friendly alternatives for more educational family activities.)
  • The smell of animals in petting zoos can attract coyotes.

We recommended that municipal decision-makers close the petting farm and are pleased to see City Council moving in this direction. The City of New Westminster recently launched a public consultation seeking feedback and ideas from residents for an alternative long-term future for the space at Queen’s Park.

Take action:

1. Residents of New Westminster can participate in the online forum now!

We’re encouraging New Westminster residents to participate in the consultation and show their support for closing the petting farm and shifting the space to be focused instead on local, sustainable food production. This is a prime opportunity to improve public access to humane, healthy, and sustainable plant-based food. Share your excitement and ideas with municipal decision-makers!

Some ideas that have been suggested in the consultation are:

  • A community garden with plant-based food preparation lessons
  • A space for seasonal classes such as preparing balcony produce planters
  • A pollination garden

For more background information and VHS’s recommendations to City Council, read our briefing note on the Queen’s Park Petting Farm.

2. Know someone in New Westminster?

Share this page with your animal-friendly friends and family using the buttons below.

3. Share the tweets below.

Thank you @New_Westminster for taking action to create animal-friendly alternatives to the Queen’s Park Petting Farm.
Vancouver Humane Society
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The move by @New_Westminster to reimagine the Queen’s Park Petting Farm space is great news for animal welfare, public health and safety, and family education.
Vancouver Humane Society
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Petting farms are stressful for animals and can be a health hazard for humans. I support the move by @New_Westminster toward a more animal-friendly and family-friendly public space in Queen’s Park.
Vancouver Humane Society
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Read the briefing note:

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Support a ban on cruel wildlife poisons

Show your support for banning inhumane and indiscriminate wildlife poisons

UPDATE – July 21, 2021

Following a meeting between VHS, other animal advocacy groups, and B.C. decision-makers, the provincial government has announced a temporary restriction on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides—the most toxic type of rodent poisons.

During the 18-month restriction, the government will conduct a review of alternative rodent control methods. Thank you for advocating to protect B.C. wildlife!

Here is how you can continue to support a ban on rodenticides in B.C.:

1.      If you have not yet signed, add your name to the pledge below. VHS will continue to highlight the widespread support for a ban on rodenticides in meetings with the provincial government.

2.      Double your impact by sharing this page with your friends and family!

3.      Make a donation to VHS so we can continue this vital animal advocacy work. All donations will support VHS’s work building a kinder world for animals.

Original post:

Wildlife poisons have become a growing animal welfare, environmental and public safety concern in recent years. The baited poisons, used to address conflicts with unwanted wildlife, cause a slow and painful death for the animals that consume them. They also have a wider ecosystem impact and can contribute to secondary or non-target poisoning of countless other animals, including birds of prey, scavengers and even domestic pets.

Every year, stories of poisoned wildlife and domestic animals make news headlines, and those stories are just a small glimpse of a much more widespread problem. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.

Growing public awareness surrounding this issue has led to increased calls for a ban of these poisons. A recent federal House of Commons e-petition is calling on the Canadian government to ban three common poisons used to control predators. In B.C., close to 20 municipalities have passed motions to address rodent poisons on municipal property and the provincial government is being encouraged to ban rodenticides across B.C.

Take Action

1. Join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Take the pledge below to show your support! For more information about this issue please see the rodenticide fact sheet and shared briefing note.

2. The official federal House of Commons e-petition is calling for a ban on three common predator poisons (strychnine, compound 1080, and sodium cyanide). The e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

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End inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede

Update

Though the chuckwagon races did not proceed in 2021 due to time-sensitive safety concerns, Stampede organizers have not committed to removing this dangerous event or the three concerning rodeo events highlighted by 5,354 animal supporters. Please stay tuned for future actions to address cruel events at the Calgary Stampede.

UPDATE – July 26, 2021

A horse was euthanized this weekend following a chuckwagon race in Red Deer, Alberta.

This comes after the Calgary Stampede cancelled their 2021 chuckwagon races due to safety concerns surrounding the lack of a practice season during COVID-19.

The chuckwagon races always pose a risk to horses because of the fast pace of the event and the proximity of wagons and horses on the track. There are also concerns about the use thoroughbred horses in chuckwagon racing, which tend to be bred for speed rather than skeletal strength. This puts them at greater risk of serious injury and euthanization.

The horse who was euthanized this weekend was diagnosed with a muscular-skeletal injury after the accident.

The loss was tragic and preventable.

Please call on the Calgary Stampede to extend their suspension of the chuckwagon races until an independent review by animal experts can determine if they can be made safer.

The majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo; so why does a Canadian event marketing itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” continue to host rodeo events?

59% of Canadians are opposed to using animals in rodeo, and yet the Calgary Stampede continues to host cruel rodeo events year after year that cause animal suffering, stress, and even death. It is clear to most people that twisting a steer’s neck until he falls down or stretching him by the neck and hind legs so he is suspended above the ground is inhumane, but these activities are carried out for the sake of so-called entertainment in the form of steer wrestling and team roping every year.

Watch: The cruel reality of calf roping

The cruel reality of calf roping

This is calf roping, an event held at rodeos including the Calgary Stampede.Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an animal-friendly, family-fr…

Perhaps the most obviously cruel event is calf roping (also known as tie-down roping), where a calf who is just three months old—long before the age she should even be weaned from her mother—is tormented or “goaded” in a chute leading from a holding pen to the rodeo arena, so that she bursts out at a high speed as soon as the gate opens. Then, as she runs into a ring at around 27 miles per hour, the confused calf is roped around the neck by a rider and jerked to a sudden stop. The rider will then jump to the ground and quickly tie three of the calf’s legs together as she struggles to break free.

Animals used for calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping can and have sustained injuries during these events that cost them their lives.

Photos of the events make it clear that these animals also experience pain and stress while being roped and roughly handled. Recent research into calf roping has confirmed that calves show visible signs of anxiety and fear while being chased and have elevated levels of stress hormones after roping events.

Another major event at the Calgary Stampede is the chuckwagon races, which has been dubbed the “half mile of hell” by organizers and participants. The races involve several teams of horses pulling wagons in a figure eight course and racing down a track at high speed to the finish line. This dangerous event has caused more than 70 horse deaths since 1986—mainly due to crash injuries and heart attacks brought on by stress. Though the event has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, organizers have announced a plan to resume the event in 2022.

Watch: The Chuckwagon races, the Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

The Chuckwagon races: The Calgary Stampede’s deadliest event

These are the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races, which have caused over 70 horse deaths since 1986. Take action to end inhumane rodeo events and create an ani…

What has been done to stop these events?

Thanks to the hard work of Vancouver Humane Society’s supporters and other animal rights advocates, some progress has been made in past years in an attempt to reduce animal injuries at the Calgary Stampede. The number of wagons in the chuckwagon races was reduced from four to three following the deaths of six horses in 2019; it remains to be seen whether this measure alone will make the “half mile of hell” any safer for horses.

Up to this point, progress toward making the Stampede more animal-friendly and family-friendly has been slow and hard-won. A serious change by the Calgary Stampede is long overdue to make this fair one that truly represents the values of Canadians.

What’s next?

The Vancouver Humane Society is calling on Calgary Stampede Interim CEO Dana Peers to remove three of the fair’s most inhumane rodeo events: calf roping, steer wrestling, and team roping. The cancellation of the 2021 chuckwagon races also offers an opportunity to employ an independent review by experts (i.e. veterinarians, animal behaviourists, equine specialists) to determine whether or not this event can be made safer in future years. If the Calgary Stampede wishes to be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, it must stop causing animal suffering and leave these events where they belong: in the past.

Take action to end inhumane rodeo events!

This action has now ended

5,354 people used this tool to send an email to decision-makers. Thank you for taking action!

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Poisons continue to threaten wildlife across B.C.

Poisons continue to threaten wildlife across B.C. Join us in calling for an immediate ban.

A golden eagle is finally back in the wild after a very close call with wildlife poisons. The beautiful bird was rescued from a Grand Forks backyard and taken to the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO). There, staff gave him an antidote in the nick of time; in another hour, they said, he may not have been able to recover.

In an interview with Global News, SORCO manager Dale Belvedere said that she couldn’t trace the exact source of the golden eagle’s poisoning, “But I would say some sort of rodenticide because he did react very quickly to the antidote. If it was lead poisoning, we’re talking a totally different antidote and he wouldn’t have reacted as he did.”

Rodenticides are a type of wildlife poison used to target rodents. The highly toxic substances cause a slow and painful death for the animals that ingest them—and as in the case of the Grand Forks golden eagle, those animals are often not the only victims. Birds of prey like owls and hawks, scavengers like crows and raccoons, and even domestic pets are all at risk of secondary poisoning from eating poisoned mice and rats.

Though this golden eagle was in rough shape after his rescue, he has now made a full recovery and has since been released. Countless other birds of prey are not so lucky, like an entire family of owls on Vancouver Island that was completely wiped out by wildlife poisons recently.

Photo: Gyl Anderson

The team at MARS Wildlife Rescue tried to save this poisoned owlet, but sadly she passed away.

The team at MARS Wildlife Rescue were called in to rescue an owlet found alone in a nest whose parents were deceased below the tree. The owlet, who was weak and lethargic, was rushed to the centre for treatment for suspected rodenticide poisoning, but sadly she did not survive. “We are devastated by the loss of an entire family of Great Horned Owls and it is disheartening to know that this is the reality that many owl families face since rodenticides are still legal to use and widely available in B.C.,” says Gylaine Andersen, Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation at MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre. “Even young owls that have not yet learned to fly and hunt can be poisoned when they are fed contaminated meat by their doting parents. It is a tragedy that is easily preventable.”

“We are devastated by the loss of an entire family of Great Horned Owls and it is disheartening to know that this is the reality that many owl families face since rodenticides are still legal to use and widely available in B.C.”
Gylaine Andersen, MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre
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Stories like this are why VHS is calling for a ban on inhumane and indiscriminate rodenticides in B.C.

Thanks to the support of people like you, we are making progress on this effort. To date, more than 2,100 VHS supporters have pledged their support for a province-wide ban on rodenticides.

We recently pointed to this growing support in a productive meeting with a variety of concerned stakeholders, including other wildlife advocates, representatives from the District of North Vancouver and Minister Murray Rankin’s office, and North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Susie Chant. We look forward to continuing this important discussion around the need for a province-wide ban of these dangerous poisons. Each pledge makes a difference as we advance this issue with decision-makers from local municipalities and the province; but we still have a long way to go to protect animals.

Take Action

If you have not yet taken the pledge, we invite you to add your name and join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Pledge numbers will be referred to in meetings with local and provincial decision-makers. For more information about this issue, please see the rodenticide fact sheet and our shared briefing note.

You can double your impact by sharing this page using the buttons below. Together, we can protect B.C. wildlife.

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Speak out to end the inhumane live export of horses

Please support the call to the federal government to ban the live export of horses for human consumption.

This inhumane trade involves draft horses, known as “gentle giants”, being shipped live in wooden crates to Japan and for slaughter for human consumption. Since 2014, more than 27,000 draft horses have been live exported by air, primarily to Japan, for slaughter.

VHS has signed a joint letter to the federal Minister of Agriculture, calling for the Canadian government to stop the inhumane shipments of draft horses to other countries for slaughter.

You can help by signing the House of Commons E-petition, which calls for an end to “air shipments of horses exported for human consumption, due to ongoing animal welfare concerns inherent in this practice.”

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Ask the Prime Minister to stop the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade

Update

3,594 individuals used the quick action tool to send a message to the federal government. Prime Minister Trudeau has since committed to curbing the illegal wildlife trade in his 2021 party platform a 2021 Mandate Letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Update: Partnering for change

We’re working with scientists and organizations across Canada to ask the federal government to take action on the wildlife trade. We signed on to this open letter asking multiple Canadian officials to recognize their role in preventing pandemics in the future.

Photo credit: World Animal Protection – Aaron Gekowski

Why stop the wildlife trade?

Thank you to everyone who supported our petition to the B.C. government calling for tighter regulation of the sale and trade of wild and exotic animals in the province. 

Despite calls from experts to take more action against the global wildlife trade, which scientists believe is the most likely source of Covid-19, there has been virtually no response from Canada. That’s a shame, as there is plenty Canada could do to combat this cruel trade and improve our own safeguards against diseases from imported wildlife.

Now we need your help in urging the federal government to do more to combat the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade.

Canada needs to:

  • Use international forums, such as the United Nations and the G20 to call for a ban on the global wildlife trade.
  • Strengthen Canada’s defences against zoonotic disease from the wildlife trade by prohibiting the import of exotic and wild animals and by improving Canada’s surveillance systems for detecting zoonotic disease.
  • Increase resources for federal agencies such as the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate to prevent the smuggling of wildlife into Canada.

How you can help

Please join us in sending a message to our federal government to do more to end this cruel trade and keep Canadians safe.

This action has now ended

3,594 people used this tool to send an email to decision-makers. Thank you for taking action!

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Tell the Greater Vancouver Zoo: If you can’t give animals a better life, don’t keep them.

Update

2,867 individuals used the quick action tool to send a message to the Greater Vancouver Zoo. After the zoo refused to take action to improve life for the animals it currently holds while working toward ending the keeping of captive animals for the sake of public entertainment, VHS launched a campaign calling for a change to provincial regulations.

Animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo are living lives of boredom and frustration, according to our report.

The report, commissioned by VHS from Zoocheck, found that many animals at the zoo are living in barren, under-sized cages and enclosures that restrict them from engaging in natural behaviours.

The report also says the zoo does not provide adequate behavioural enrichment for the animals. (Behavioural enrichment involves providing animals with a stimulating environment that allows natural activities such as climbing, foraging or digging and also creates physical and cognitive tasks that simulate challenges animals would find in their natural environment.)

We’re calling on the zoo to:

  • develop a comprehensive environmental/behavioural enrichment program for all its animals.
  • stop keeping animals that aren’t suited to B.C.’s climate and those it cannot accommodate in a way that better meet their physical, psychological and social needs.
  • remove or enlarge inadequate, undersized cages.

In the longer term, we think the zoo should stop keeping exotic animals and transition toward becoming a sanctuary for native species.

Please join us in sending a message to the Greater Vancouver Zoo that it needs to improve life for the animals it currently holds while working toward ending the keeping of captive animals for the sake of public entertainment.

This action has now ended

2,867 people used this tool to send an email to decision-makers. Thank you for taking action!

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Animal rescue standards of practice – have your say!

The Animal Welfare Network of British Columbia (AWANBC) is currently seeking public feedback on draft standards for rescues. Follow this link for more information and to submit comments – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9G8NSQ7

The AWANBC, of which the Vancouver Humane Society is a member, aims to enable animal welfare organizations to work together and to support strategies around specific projects and initiatives associated with companion animal welfare.

One such AWANBC project is focused on creating rescue standards of practice. To date, there are no criteria required for groups to be involved in animal welfare or rescue and there is no accountability for these organizations. Meanwhile, the number of animal rescues and shelters across the province continues to grow. While many have high standards of care, others may have practices that put animals and the public at risk.

Without standards of practice, any group can self-identify as a rescue and it can be difficult for the public to determine if a rescue group is reputable or not. AWANBC has identified this as a pressing animal welfare and public safety issue and has worked to develop Animal Rescue Standards of Practice.

Follow this link for more information on the standards and to submit comments – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9G8NSQ7

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B.C.’s Hunting & Trapping Regulations – Have Your Say!

Update:

Weapons for “big game” hunting: The province listened to our concerns and prohibited the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow, citing concerns about a higher likelihood of animal suffering from the use of alternative weapons.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway: The province added a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. This follows a tragic incident in 2017, when a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s guardian and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife: The province prohibited the use of infrared optics (or thermal imaging) and wireless trail cameras for the purpose of hunting, as well as sharing the location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars: The province banned the pursuit-only season for cougars, where previously hunters who had killed their limit of cougars were permitted to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds for training and exercise opportunities. In some situations, this created significant stress for mother cougars and their young.

Thank you for your advocacy to make these changes happen!

Original post:

The provincial government is currently seeking public feedback on a long list of proposed hunting and trapping regulations. This is an opportunity to weigh in on wildlife conservation and welfare issues in your area and throughout the province.

Weapons for Big Game Hunting

There are currently no regulations in place preventing big game hunters from using alternative or primitive weapons such as slingshots, spears and airguns. Citing concerns surrounding a higher likelihood of unnecessary suffering, a proposed regulation seeks to prohibit the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway

Another regulation proposes a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. Unlike many other highways in the province, the stretch of highway 99 between Squamish and Pemberton or the Callaghan Road near Whistler currently has no restrictions on hunting or shooting within 400m of the highway. The area is a popular spot for locals, hikers and tourists. Tragically, in 2017 a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s owner and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife 

Several proposals also seek to prohibit the use of technology to assist hunters, including banning infrared optics (or thermal imaging) which enable hunters to see the heat signature of animal that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye; wireless trail cameras that when triggered send images of wildlife to a remote device and provide a hunter with the location of wildlife; and the sharing of location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground. The rationale behind banning this type of equipment for hunting purposes is that the use of it fails to meet the principles of fair chase, giving hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife. VHS is concerned that the use of such technology for hunting is turning B.C.’s backcountry into a canned hunt scenario, where the ability for wildlife to avoid human detection is increasingly diminished.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars

Another proposed regulation aims to ban the pursuit-only season for cougars in the Kootenay region, where existing regulations allow hunters who have killed their allotment of cougars to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds. The rationale behind permitting a pursuit-only season was to allow houndsmen to train and exercise their dogs, but the cruel practice not only causes unnecessary stress to the animals, but can lead to injury for the cougar and the hounds, as well as the separation of mothers and kittens.

Numerous other regulations focused on motorized vehicle and firearm restrictions and changes to specific hunting seasons are also being proposed. For example, a proposal to end wolverine trapping in the Kootenays; implement a mule deer bow only season on Gulf, Denman and Hornby Islands; prohibit the use of precision-guided firearms and scopes on bows during bow-only seasons; and changes to black bear hunting seasons within the traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest in order to support bear viewing tourism efforts by the Nation.

How to Submit Comments

For the full list of proposed regulations, click here. The public comment period ends January 19, 2020 at midnight. To participate through the government’s engagement website, you’ll need to register for a “Basic BCeID” account. Once you’ve created a BCeID, return to the main hunting/trapping regulation page and click login. Once you’ve logged in, it will return you to the main page and you can scroll through the list of proposals. On each proposal page, you’ll be able to scroll to the bottom and select “support”, “neutral” or “oppose”. You’ll also be able to leave a comment, if you’d like to elaborate on your position.