Too many hunters driving with loaded guns

Conservation officers find alarming number of hunters driving with loaded firearms inside their vehicles

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A recent enforcement campaign by conservation officers found an alarming number of hunters driving with loaded firearms inside their vehicles.

Kevin Van Damme, a conservation officer based in Kamloops, said five hunters were caught in the area this month driving with loaded rifles — one of which had the safety off.

“The round was in the chamber and the safety was off,” he said.

“Any bump and that round could be discharged.”

Van Damme said a loaded gun presents a danger to the hunter, his companion and the enforcement officer as drivers typically scramble to unload the gun after being pulled over.

Van Damme acknowledged hunters driving with loaded guns may be doing so in order to get off a quick shot.

However, he added,  rules are also in place regarding shooting in proximity to maintained roads and homes.

The Conservation Officer Service levied tickets for the offences.

Van Damme also said enforcement has turned up instances of hunters falsifying tag information, either claiming a deer was taken by a partner or that it was shot in another region.

That tactic is designed to allow for the killing of two deer this season.

Such offences can result in seizure of firearms and charges in provincial court.

“In the Interior, there’s a large number of mule-deer days,” Van Damme said.

“There’s a lot of pressure on these animals.”