More work needed to protect turrs
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