Outfitters want big game hunting age lowered

Gary
Gary Kean
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Ron Hicks, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitter's Association would like to see the big game hunting age lowered.

CORNER BROOK — While there are concerns about the dwindling big game population in the province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitter’s Association would like to see more younger people allowed to hunt.

Ron Hicks, the association’s president, said lowering the legal age to hunt could help the industry in the long run. Right now, a person has to be 18 years old to hunt big game and must be 16 to for small game.

Those age requirements are among the highest in the world and the association, in conjunction with the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, has a proposal submitted to the provincial government to lower the ages.

“That’s the voice of the resident and non-resident hunter,” Hicks said of the support within the hunting community for this change.

“There are so many advantages to it, even from a management point of view.”

Hicks said with an aging population, it is important to instill good hunting practices in the younger generation if animals are going to continue to be harvested.

“We need hunters to take so many animals and we need young people participating,” he said.

Under current regulations, anyone who is 18 can apply and possibly get a licence, regardless of skill or experience. Under the association’s proposal, hunters under 18 would have to hunt with an experienced, licensed guardian or parent and be trained in marksmanship.

Lowering the age would be just one component of a sound management plan for big game. Caribou numbers have declined at an alarming rate and outfitters have already expressed concerns about the increase of 7,000 moose licences and an extension to the moose hunting season by four weeks introduced the last couple of seasons.

Without action to ensure successful rates for moose hunting excursions, Hicks said the outfitting industry and residential hunts will both eventually be in jeopardy.

He noted how in other areas of Canada where moose numbers are low, there can be as many as nine or 10 people per licence or a big game hunting season that lasts only three days. He said there is no reason why the vast wilderness available in Newfoundland and Labrador cannot have its moose population managed to where the traditional hunt can carry on for residents and outfitters alike.

“It seems so wonderful to be able to hunt longer, be easier to get a licence and to have more either-sex tags in the mix, but that is in the short term,” said Hicks. “The bigger picture is that, in short order, they will have to hunt harder, longer, spend more money and the whole experience won’t be what it was.”

The association, which will wrap up its annual general meeting today, was hoping to hear from Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Hedderson as its keynote luncheon speaker today, but the minister informed the group Thursday that he will be unable to make it.

Hicks said there will not be a replacement speaker and the association will use the time to continue addressing issues and concerns its members bring up.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitter

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • wayne osmond
    December 10, 2012 - 12:12

    I didn't know 18 was considered as old age in this Province. The article says "nine or 10 people per licence or a big game hunting season that lasts only three days." occurs in some places. Will we don't have to worry about that here. Our Wildlife Management must be the best in the World. Lets keep it that way and also keep children out of it until they reach 18. Hopefully Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Hedderson will look at Statistics before he decides and sees that kids who hunt have the highest in fatalities and non fatalities in both two party and individual accidents were between the ages of 10-19.

  • ward samson
    December 08, 2012 - 21:34

    Ron: We the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation have made numerous requests to our government to have the big game hunting age reduced, but we have not been successful. Hopefully, with your added voice it will become positive. Ward Samson(past president of NLWF)

  • Dave Sharpe
    December 08, 2012 - 08:04

    Sorry, could not disagree more. I am not in favor of 16 year olds running around with rifles, for any reason.

  • gord
    December 07, 2012 - 20:48

    I don't agree! Next it'll be suggested to solve problems: lower the voting age, driving age, or drinking age.

  • david
    December 07, 2012 - 10:32

    What codswallop. Utter nonsensical BS. Sorry for your industry being in permanent decline, but that's no reason to implement idiotic public policy changes for no positive resultys, and very likely negative ones.

  • Mike
    December 07, 2012 - 10:02

    i can't agree with a suggestion that a "minor" as defined under the law be allowed to carry a high-powered rifle, even under the supervision of an adult and experienced hunter. It is sufficient that young people learn the pleasures of being in the woods along with the responsibility associated with hunting small game/birds. That gives them an opportunity to develop experience that can be transferred to hunting big game. I say this, fully recognizing the power of shotguns and lower powered rifles, but essentially, they are short-range weapons which decreases the likelihood of the young hunter injuring someone because they were not sure of what was behind the animal/bird they are shooting at, and in the case of small game, the weapon is most often pointed at a downward angle, with a safer trajectory. So, I am one father and hunter that is not in support of lowering the age. My children can accompany on a hunt without carrying a rifle. They will learn just as much. When the time is right, I'll teach them to shoot.

  • Blunt
    December 07, 2012 - 09:11

    Sorry, gotta disagree on this one. I've been hunting big game here for 22 years now and I personally would not have started earlier than 18, and I wouldn't be comfortable with my son starting before that age either. Getting a moose or caribou takes a lot more knowledge than just being able to pull the trigger and get an animal. That's the easy part, cleaning and transporting an animal are the hard part and it takes time to learn it properly. I certainly didn't have that knowledge at 18 and not many do. It's fine to have younger kids involved, but there is a limit to the involvement.

  • ProudNLMom
    December 07, 2012 - 08:08

    The Outfitters Association makes some very valid points. Our wild animal resources need to be managed properly. Encouraging our younger population to carry on the tradition of hunting both small and big game will be part of the solution. Its also about ensuring our cultural traditions will carry on into the next generation who are consumed with electronics. If our son was being raised in his native northern community, he would have started hunting for walrus, bear, and birds before his 10th birthday. We are already teaching him safe gun practices and marksmanship at the Rod and Gun Club, to help prepared him for a Hunter Safety coruse. Cuddos to NLOA for bring this issue up.

  • Qwerty
    December 07, 2012 - 07:52

    Under the association’s proposal, hunters under 18 would have to hunt with an experienced, licensed guide and be trained in marksmanship. Where does this leave a parent residing in the province who would like to take his or her minor child out hunting themselves, without paying for a guide? If I am reading this article right, this proposed change if passed would be of benefit to the outfitters who's clients want to bring their own children to hunt (a great thing) but leave our resident minor children out of the equation. Please tell me I have this wrong!