The BC SPCA is opposed to the hunting of any animal for trophy or sport, including canned hunts, whether or not any of the meat is consumed. Hunting large predators is not condoned (e.g. bears, cougars, wolves) given their keystone role in the environment and as obtaining meat is not often the primary motivation.
Where hunting is practised to obtain meat for personal food consumption (subsistence) purposes, it must be carried out in an ethical, humane, responsible and sustainable manner by qualified and experienced hunters, abiding by applicable laws and regulations. This includes consideration of environmental pollutants – such as lead shot and sinkers – highly toxic devices that cause undue animal suffering and death through ingestion or secondary lead poisoning.
Approved by the Board of Directors – February 2017
(replaces previous version, February 2009)
Hunting refers to both the capture and killing of wildlife, whether by firearms or other weapon, or by use of traps that either kill or restrain. Hunters should make every effort to minimize the infliction of pain or suffering by using techniques that cause instant death. In addition, hunters should avoid killing animals during baby season to prevent dependent young from being orphaned.
Bow hunting, baiting, pit lamping and spearing are hunting practices that are not condoned by the BC SPCA as they do not meet these criteria. In addition, baiting and pit lamping are illegal in the province. The BC SPCA is also opposed to hunting using animals (e.g., dogs, raptors) with the exception of using dogs for rodent control (see BC SPCA position statement on Nuisance Wildlife Management).
In general, hunting is not an effective wildlife management tool given that the individuals taken often represent the largest and fittest breeding animals, which may contribute to a reduction in genetic diversity.1 Some hunts can also encourage the presence of introduced species on the landscape as the hunting opportunity provides an incentive to maintain a population of the introduced species (e.g., feral pigs, fallow deer).
There is also growing evidence of the negative indirect effects of hunting on large predators. With species such as bears, it is common for males to kill unrelated offspring in order to gain mating access to females. The selective hunting of large males of these species can alter population dynamics as the increased turnover in large males decreases juvenile survival rates.2, 3 Hunting large predators such as cougars has been associated with an increase in human-cougar conflict.4 More broadly, the removal of large predators can have cascading negative ecosystem-wide effects. The absence of the top predator allows animals at the next lowest trophic level (mesopredators) to increase their foraging activities, resulting in decreases in abundance of prey animals at still lower trophic levels.5
Background updated – September 2019
1 Coltman DW, O’Donoghue P, Jorgenson JT, Hogg JT, Strobeck C and Festa-Bianchet M 2003 Undesirable evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting. Nature 426: 655-658
2 Gosselin J, Zedrosser A, Swenson JE and Pelletier F 2015 The relative importance of direct and indirect effects of hunting mortality on the population dynamics of brown bears. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20141840
3 Gosselin J, Leclerc M, Zedrosser A, Steyaert SM, Swenson JE and Pelletier F 2016 Hunting promotes sexual conflict in brown bears. Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12576
4 Teichman KJ, Cristescu B and Darimont CT 2016 Hunting as a management tool? Cougar-human conflict is positively related to trophy hunting. BMC Ecology doi: 10.1186/s12898-016-0098-4
5 Suraci JP, Clinchy M, Dill LM, Roberts D and Zanette LY 2016 Fear of large carnivores causes a trophic cascade. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/ncomms10698
Baiting: Using meat, cereals, cultivated crops, restrained animal or any manufactured product or material, that may attract wildlife and includes plastic or other imitation foods, to lure wildlife closer to the person intending to kill it.
Canned hunt: A practice that involves the hunting of a contained animal, thereby preventing fair chase (e.g., fencing), or animals that have been bred, raised in captivity and released specifically to be hunted.
Ecosystem: A dynamic set of living organisms (plants, animals and microorganisms) all interacting amongst themselves and with the environment in which they live (soil, climate, water and light).
Hunting: The capture and killing of wildlife, whether by firearms or other weapon, or by use of traps that either kill or restrain.
Pit lamping: A practice that involves the use of lights to hunt at night, making use of animals’ reflective eyes.
Spearing: Killing an animal using a spear, a weapon with a long shaft and a pointed tip, typically of metal, used for thrusting or throwing.
Sport hunting: The hunting of wildlife for recreational purposes that includes stalking, pursuing, or otherwise seeking the wild animal, followed by killing or attempting to kill it, and may include removal of select meat cuts from the animal.
Subsistence hunting: The intent of hunting only for personal consumption (not commercial gain) to meet the basic food and clothing needs of the hunter or their family by making use of the whole animal without animal parts being used for non-cultural aesthetic purposes.
Trapping: The capture of wild or domestic animals in traps that either kill or restrain them.
Trophic level: The position an animal occupies on a food chain or food web within an ecosystem.
Trophy hunting: The selective hunting of wild animals for human recreation, regardless if meat is removed from the animal. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal that is kept, and usually displayed, to represent the success of the hunt.