Nfld. & Labrador

Gerry Byrne fined for breaking hunting rules, after being named land resources minister

Gerry Byrne, fisheries and land resources minister, was fined for using a modified gun that is not allowed for hunting in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Byrne used a modified gun that is not permitted

Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne violated hunting regulations three months after assuming the role that oversees those rules. (Gary Locke/CBC)

The provincial fisheries and land resources minister broke the hunting rules when he was caught with a modified firearm that isn't allowed. 

A wildlife officer fined Gerry Byrne $86 for a having an un-plugged shotgun during a October 2017 hunting trip — just three months after he was appointed to the new cabinet role, leaving behind the advanced education, skills and labour portfolio. 

He was hunting near Gaff's Topsail in central Newfoundland, when a wildlife officer approached him for a trail-side check.

The government's wildlife regulations state it is unlawful "to carry, transport or possess, in any area frequented by wildlife, any pump or autoloading shotgun unless it is plugged or altered so that it cannot carry any more than a total of three shells in the magazine and chamber combined."

This is a print out of the ticket that Gerry Byrne was issued after he violated the provincial hunting regulations. (Submitted)

In a statement to CBC News, Byrne confirmed he did violate the wildlife regulations by not having the required plug in his 20-gauge long gun, which he says was newly purchased at the time. Byrne said it had not previously been fired.

He said the firearm was locked, secured and unloaded and it remained with him, even after he was issued a ticket for the missing plug. 

"It was a good reminder to take better precautions to follow all necessary wildlife regulations and to encourage others to do so as well," Byrne said, adding that he paid the fine. 

Byrne accused PC MHA of being sympathetic to poachers

In November, Byrne accused PC MHA Jim Lester of being sympathetic to, and even condoning, poachers.

Maybe Lester "is not always on the side of the law," Byrne suggested in the House. 

Byrne, whose cabinet portfolio includes wildlife regulations, says being fined for violating one of those regulations is a 'good reminder to take better precautions … and to encourage others to do so as well.' (CBC)

The issue was raised in the context of hunting at night, which is illegal, and the issue of farmers worried about crops being eaten by moose or other animals. 

He made the comments during question period, when Lester asked Byrne about a farmer being charged with shooting a moose that was eating his cabbages at night. 

After doubling down on his accusations for several days, Byrne later withdrew his comments, including an accusation he hurled at NDP MHA Jim Dinn of marginalizing Indigenous leaders, as MHAs were debating an incident that resulted in 2.6 million dead salmon off Newfoundland's south coast. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

with files from Anthony Germain and Stephanie Kinsella

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