Do you remember the first couple of weeks of Covid-19 and the toilet paper shortage? Then came the flour and other dry supplies, followed by yeast. Next came the seed shortage. Suppliers in town could not refill the shelves fast enough, so most grocery stores and points of sales have restrictions on how much a person can buy.
Not to forget, we went through and are still occasionally witnessing a shortage of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. Things got better with restrictions, yes, but what a jittery bunch we are.
There are good things that this crisis has spurred though. People removing lawns and putting in gardens is a great thing if they do not hoard seeds, since a little goes a long way. Still, growing food and ensuring bloomy havens for pollinators is just about the best we can do with our personal or rented patch of land.
Next on the occasional and unprecedented and worrying shortages comes ammunition. Yes, local stores have a low supply or none at all due to people panic buying for the upcoming hunting season. To be fair, the supply chain can also be affected by reduced shipments from the south of the border where people, you guessed it, bought ammunition in higher volumes than usual.
That many meat-eaters prefer game meat to store bought is not new. What’s new is the hunting math that’s unfolding in our province as we speak. There have been 17,356 sales of all species permits and hunting licenses in British Columbia from January to March. That’s an almost 7,000 more permits since last year, which is significant. So what, some may say, people want to make sure they have food to put on the table, right?
Somewhat. Firstly, let’s hope that everyone who ventures out into the bush – locally for now, that is, because no one should be travelling to small communities even within the province – knows what they are doing and will not needlessly hurt additional animals, or kill the wrong ones. Which if they do, they should contact the local conservation office and report. Ideally.
The best option is improving one’s knowledge and shooting skills, which I am hoping all hunters, most of all new ones, will do before heading out. No animal deserves to die because someone did not do their homework. Black bears for example are found in healthy numbers in British Columbia, but with at least 4,800 permits that have been issued and counting, no one knows how many bears will be badly hurt and left to die, or how many cubs will be left orphans because their moms will be shot.
Then there’s the ugliest aspect of all: poaching, which has already increased. On Vancouver Island, at least 15 Roosevelt elk have been killed this year, majority of them being pregnant females. There is a total of 3,200 of these majestic animals in British Columbia – the largest elk species in North America – and of those, 3,000 live on Vancouver Island where they are being hunted legally and illegally. They have few natural predators, but one is the most fearsome of them all. Yes, humans. Plus, like much of our wildlife, they are threatened by habitat loss.
So far, the math looks pretty scary. What’s adding to the issue yet is the fact that there are approximately 150 conservation officers in British Columbia and you are correct to wonder how on earth would they be able to keep track of people who are out in the bush. They won’t for the most part. Plus, as of late, many are at the B.C. borders reinforcing the new rules that help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Which brings me to the last related issue: for anyone who wants to fish or hunt, with all permits in place and proper knowledge of what they are after, please do so in your local area to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to small communities that do not have the resources to deal with such a challenge.
Here’s to hoping that common sense will prevail as people try to secure their food supply for the incoming months. If there’s one thing that we have learned these days it is to take nothing for granted. Nature’s bounty first of all.