It’s hunting season in B.C. and RCMP are reminding hunters to practice proper gun safety when out in search of game.
The season opened for most deer species in the province this month, meaning many hunters will be travelling with their non-restricted firearms to their favourite hunting spots.
“We have many hunters and firearms enthusiasts travel through Prince George and stay at our hotels or with family and friends, and we want to remind them about the safe storage and transportation of their firearms,” Cpl. Jennifer Cooper, spokesperson for Prince George RCMP, says in a news release.
Gun owners need to ensure their firearms are transported out of sight, either in a locked trunk or a lockable compartment, Cooper says. If the vehicle doesn’t have either, they must make sure they’re out of sight within the locked vehicle, perhaps under the back seat or covered by a blanket.
“Non-restricted firearms must be unloaded during transportation,” she adds.
A trigger or lock or cable lock is recommended, as well as removing the bolt so the gun can’t be fired, Cooper says. Otherwise, lock the gun in a container that is difficult to break into.
Firearms cannot be left in a vehicle overnight, she says.
Ammunition has to be stored separately or in the same locked container if the owner is travelling with a locking gun case, she says.
It’s also advisable not to advertise the possibility of a gun in the vehicle, Cooper says. Decals or stickers that suggest a firearm may be found inside make it more likely a vehicle may be targeted for break-in, she says.
“Consider removing these decals or else take all necessary precautions to make sure you are traveling with and storing your firearms securely,” Cooper says.
There are more than 107,000 licensed hunters in B.C., according to the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the largest not-for-profit medical group in the world, falls are the leading cause of injury for hunters. Among the clinics safety tips for hunters is to check equipment and stands before use and to use safety belts in stands to prevent falls.
The clinic also suggests avoiding alcohol use, letting someone know where you’ll be hunting, and taking two-way radios or loud whistles in case of emergency. And wearing bright orange vests helps with visibility, it says.
“Treat every firearm as if it is loaded,” warn the clinic’s hunting safety tips. “Never assume a firearm is unloaded. Place your finger on the trigger only when you’re ready to shoot.”
The hunting industry contributes $350 million to BC’s economy each year, according to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.