More work needed to pro­tect turrs

The Compass - - NEWS -

A few weeks ago I read Wal­ter Par­sons of Pla­cen­tia’s let­ter to The Tele­gram ex­press­ing his con­cern with hunt­ing pres­sure on turrs in Pla­cen­tia Bay, and the lack of en­force­ment and con­cern for over­all preser­va­tion of the species.

It is com­mon knowl­edge that a lot of the birds are killed for the dol­lar-sign printed on their backs. It is a sad state, and poor re­fec­tion on all hunters, and all New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans, when you have a few who are mainly in­ter­ested in the hunt for the few measly dol­lars they make by sell­ing turrs. It is noth­ing but blind greed on the part of hunters — I can’t call them sports­men — who go out ev­ery time the weather is suit­able, some­times three or four times a week to slaugh­ter as many turrs as they can find, to pay for their ‘sport.’ Those that are not sold end up be­ing dumped, as was for all to see re­cently on CBC’s Here And Now.

Where do they think the birds are com­ing from? The turr, or murre, only has one chick, and not all adult birds breed. They have to con­tend with nat­u­ral preda­tors in the early stages of life, even be­fore they leave the nest.

The daily bag limit is 20 birds, and it is not un­com­mon for a boat with three or four hunters to come back with their quota of 60 or 80 birds. We are priv­i­leged here in New­found­land and Labrador to be able to hunt these birds for food. Un­fortu- nately, there are a greedy, in­con­sid­er­ate few out there who seem to think they have the right to go out ever day, if they can, and take their ‘quota’ ev­ery time.

If we keep abus­ing this priv­i­lege — and it is not a right — be­cause of the in­con­sid­er­ate ac­tions of these hunters, don’t be sur­prised if that priv­i­lege is taken away from us. Then you will hear the squawk­ing for sure.

It is not like it was only a few decades ago when we went out only in the make and brake en­gine or a row­boat, with the old trusty sin­gle-shot 12-guage to pick up a few birds for the ta­ble. You only took what you wanted and if you were luck enough to pick up a few ex­tra, you shared with the less for­tu­nate.

To­day, we have the fast speed­boats, multi-shot guns and car­tridges by the case, so the slaugh­ter grinds on. Let’s not for­get the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as well from garbage be­ing thrown overboard by the hunters — thou­sands of empty shot­gun plas­tic shell cas­ings and con­tain­ers, and what­ever other un­wanted items on­board.

As for the en­force­ment part of it: While the pro­tec­tion of the species is every­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, this comes un­der federal law en­force­ment, in par­tic­u­lar the RCMP, who have this as part of their man­date. It seems, how­ever, it is very low on the list of pri­or­i­ties. While there is no doubt that some mi­nor charges, like hunt­ing with lead shot and so on, have been laid, the more se­ri­ous of­fences (i.e. the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing) go un­chal­lenged.

Hav­ing said that, it is not all about charg­ing peo­ple, it’s about pre­ven­tion, which in some cases will mean charg­ing peo­ple. I am sure there must be some wig­gle room to have a mem­ber or two hit the ‘high’ spots and show the flag, in ar­eas as men­tioned by Mr. Par­sons.

Don’t for­get you can only have 40 birds in your pos­ses­sion. Who in hell eats that many birds? You wouldn’t go down to Do­min­ion and buy 40 chick­ens in a year any­more than you’re go­ing to eat 40 turrs in a year.

Bot­tom line here is that some- thing needs to be done about this abuse of priv­i­lege be­fore it is too late. An op­tion of a tag sys­tem is be­ing tossed around, and maybe that is the way to go. You buy your tags, you use them and you’re fin­ished, no mat­ter the greed. Some­thing has to be done be­fore it is too late. If that hap- pens we have only our­selves to blame; law-en­force­ment, the leg­isla­tive au­thor­ity, and more so than the thought­less, shameless, in­con­sid­er­ate peo­ple who con­sider them­selves sports­man.

Ray Hynes, Bris­tol’s Hope

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