Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. lowers legal hunting age to 12, improves access for hunters with disabilities

In an effort to get more young people out hunting, Newfoundland and Labrador is lowering the minimum age for both small and big game licences.

Changes also gives disabled 1st dibs on moose put down by wildlife officers

Changes allow hunters as young as 12 to hunt small game, while those as young as 16 will be allowed to shoot big game, such as moose. (Ashley Taylor/Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association )

In an effort to get more young people out hunting, Newfoundland and Labrador is lowering the minimum age for both small and big game licences.

The new age limits were announced Friday along with other changes to the Wildlife Act and regulations, including efforts to help those with disabilities have better access to hunting and angling.

The minimum age to shoot small game, coyotes and other furbearing animals has been lowered from 16 to 12, and the minimum age to shoot big game has been lowered from 18 to 16.

Gerry Burne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, announced the changes Friday morning in Corner Brook. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

"Including young people in our outdoor heritage, access to our hunting experiences, that's been something that other provinces, other jurisdictions have enjoyed for quite some time," said Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources.

"It's something that's been asked for not just by young people but by parents here in Newfoundland and Labrador."

New age requirements come into effect immediately, but young hunters will only be permitted to use a gun under the supervision of a qualified adult.

Mark Lomond is an avid hunter from Port aux Basques who's happy with the changes to the hunting age. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Mark Lomond of Port aux Basques is an avid hunter who thinks lowering the age is a great way to get youth engaged.

"I use to go with my Uncle Tony when I was young. But I wasnt allowed to hunt. It wasn't until later years when I got into it. It would have been great! I would have loved to. It would have made it much better if I could have hunted back then," he said. 

Early big game draw application dates will be in effect for next year's season, to allow hunters and trappers more time to plan for the season.

More accessible hunting

Changes were also announced to make it easier for people with a disability to hunt and fish in the province.

They include giving people with a disability first dibs on moose put down by conservation officers for humane or public safety reasons.

Another change will allow people with disabilities to have priority access to moose put down for any reason by wildlife officers. (gssafaris.com)

As well, hunters designated by a disabled person to shoot under their licence will be allowed to be 800 metres away, or in line of sight, whichever is greater.

People with disabilities will also be given priority access to firearm safety training in 2018-19.

With files from Colleen Connors