Nfld. & Labrador

Roadside moose hunters 'should not be at it,' says RCMP

Hunting moose from a roadway isn't just illegal — it's also unsafe and inconsiderate, says Baie Verte RCMP Sgt. Doug Hewitt.

Not just illegal — it's also unsafe and inconsiderate, says Sgt. Doug Hewitt

Slowing down to spot moose in the woods is unsafe, says RCMP Sgt. Doug Hewitt, who says roadside hunting is illegal and can cost a hunter their moose licence. (Submitted by David Brophy)

With at least two roadside-moose hunting incidents on the Baie Verte Peninsula this fall, police are reminding people that it's illegal to hunt from a vehicle or a roadside — and they risk losing a hunting licence altogether.

There have been two recent charges in the region this hunting season: the first in September near La Scie, where a man fired a shot and hit a moose from his driver's window, while the second was near Burlington, where there were no shots fired.

In both cases, someone called police.

RCMP Sgt. Doug Hewitt said it's definitely not uncommon for the Baie Verte detachment to get calls about roadside hunters, whose behaviour can risk public safety. 

"When a person does see a moose from their vehicle, they kind of get caught in the moment and the rush is on, 'I need to fire a shot at the moose,'" Hewitt said.

"A lot of times the shot is fired from the vehicle because it's a steady location to lay your firearm to fire a steady shot or an accurate shot. It's totally not safe though — people should not be at it."

Hewitt said he is not sure why some hunters stay in their vehicles. 

"Maybe it's just an easier way to hunt, because hunting can be expensive when it comes to gas and that kind of thing," Hewitt said.

"A lot of times it may be easier to just drive up the roadway and just have a look along the side of the road and if you see a moose stop and have a shot and hopefully get the moose. That's the idea behind it."

Hunters 'just coasting along the highway'

Hewitt said in his experience of working at two rural detachments, he's had plenty of calls about it.

"The most common complaint we get is that you're travelling along the highway and all of a sudden there is a guy in front of them probably doing 20 or 30 kilometres an hour, just coasting along the highway, and they won't pull off and they expect the person behind to drive around them," Hewitt said.

It's totally not safe.- Sgt. Doug Hewitt

"But they're moose hunting on the road, right? And they're oblivious to the fact of who's behind them."

It's not just illegal and unsafe — it's inconsiderate, Hewitt said.

"They're not being careful if they're thinking about firing a shot from the roadway or from the vehicle," Hewitt told CBC's On The Go.

"A lot of times people are then forced to pass that vehicle because they become frustrated … and it can cause motor vehicle accidents."

Consequences of a conviction can range from a fine to jail time, depending on the incident. People risk having their vehicles or firearms seized, as well as losing their moose hunting licence.

Head out into the woods to hunt, not the roadside, says Hewitt. (CBC)

In the most recent incident near Burlington, a 59-year-old man has been charged with careless use of a firearm. A 48-year-old man in the La Scie incident has been charged with careless use of a firearm and unsafe storage of a firearm. Hewitt said the moose he shot was also seized.

It's up to the provincial authorities to determine any violations of the Wild Life Act.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Bailey White

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