Lower hunting age in Newfoundland and Labrador
* This letter was sent by the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association to MHA Gerry Byrne, minister for Fisheries and Land Resources.
Dear Minister Byrne,
The Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association (LHAFA) represents more than 300 members across Labrador.
Our association has been lobbying government since our inception in 2010 to lower the hunting age in Newfoundland and Labrador. Personally, I have talked to every minister responsible for this legislation up until your appointment as minister of Fisheries and Land Resources. I continue to lobby our MHA Perry Trimper and was especially hopeful when he was the minister of the newly formed Department of Fisheries and Lands and Resources.
The LHAFA has put forward its position of lowering the legal age for hunting in our province from 16 to 12 years of age for small game and lowered from 18 to 16 years of age for big game hunting, in combination with the conditions that a hunter safety course is mandatory and that the youth are under direct supervision when harvesting wildlife.
To promote and preserve our rich hunting culture and heritage, the change in the current regulations is necessary to assist the provincial government as well as organizations like ours achieve our mandates of promoting youth outdoor activities, particularly hunting.
The Federal Firearms Act already permits the holding of a firearms licence for youth 12 years of age or older and actually has an exception permitting youth less than 18 years old and who hunts or traps as a way of life is eligible to hold a licence if the individual needs to hunt or trap in order to sustain himself or herself or his or her family. This pertains to all Indiginous groups throughout the province.
In order to continue to manage our wildlife resources in a responsible manner, it is essential to encourage our youth to participate in hunting as it is the most important management tool available for conservation of our wildlife resources.
Our association looks forward to changes in the current Wildlife Regulations to bring Newfoundland and Labrador on par with all other provinces of Canada. We will continue our positive dialogue with the Wildlife Division to continue our strong collaborative relationship and maintain an open dialogue in the management of our wildlife resources.
Unfortunately, with opening of the hunting season just days away, this fall we will lose another cohort of our youth to college, university and the workforce away, before they are able to learn and embrace their hunting culture.