Sloppy crossbow marksmanship causing unnecessary harm to animals, says animal protection official

Crossbow hunting is growing in popularity in Quebec — 2,500 moose were killed with crossbows last year alone.

Crossbow use authorized in certain areas of Quebec until October

Hunting with crossbows is becoming increasingly popular in Quebec. (Radio-Canada)

Archers and animal protection groups are calling on tighter rules surrounding crossbow hunting in Quebec since no proof of skill is required for someone to receive a crossbow licence. 

Hunting with crossbows and bow and arrow started in some areas in August and continues into October.

"Often, crossbow users don't practice enough," said Marie-Josée Harvey, the assistant on animal protection at Zec Martin-Valin in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

"It's sad to say, but the most severely injured animals, it's really from crossbows, not a bow and arrow." 

There are 63 Zecs (zones d'exploitation contrôlée, or Controlled Harvesting Zones) in Quebec, many of which are run by local hunting associations.

Growing popularity

Hunting moose and other types of game with a crossbow is legal in Quebec in specific zones and growing in popularity — 2,500 moose were killed in Quebec with crossbows last year alone.

Currently, provincial law doesn't require crossbow hunters to practice on targets or prove their skill in order to obtain a permit.

Quebec's requirements for obtaining a crossbow licence are that the person be at least 12 years old and take a 7-hour theory course. 

"If a person arrives in the forest and hasn't practiced, it's not true that [a crossbow] will shoot like a laser where you want it to go," said Pierre Tremblay, president of the Chicoutimi archery club.

Even if crossbow users wanted to practice however, there are very few practice ranges in Quebec, especially in rural areas.

Tremblay would like to see crossbow users form clubs where they can practice. He also wants the government to impose tighter restrictions on who can get crossbow hunting permits.

With files from Radio-Canada's Gilles Munger