P.E.I. conservation group against hunting on Sundays

An Island conservation group is coming out against a proposed amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Act that would allow for hunting on Sundays.

'If we don't put wildlife first, then we can't justify what we are doing to it'

A private member's bill would allow hunting on Sundays during P.E.I.'s regular hunting season. (John Robertson/CBC)

An Island conservation group is coming out against a proposed amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Act that would allow for hunting on Sundays.

PC MLA Jamie Fox put forward the idea on April 12,  through a private member's bill that would repeal the portion of the act that prohibits hunting on Sundays.

"The other provinces and territories across Canada allow hunting on select Sundays," Fox said.

"We also have to take in consideration that there used to be roughly 7,000 hunting licenses sold in the province. Now we are down somewhere between 1,500 and 1,700, so the pressure on wildlife hunting has dropped considerably."

Hunting season on P.E.I. for most geese, snipe and ducks is from October until the end of December. 

Fox says fishing and trapping are already seven days a week within their seasons, just not hunting.

The hunting season for ducks, snipe and geese on P.E.I. runs from October to the end of December. (John Robetson/CBC)

The bill has had first and second reading and is now in committee at the P.E.I. Legislature.

Hunters for Conservation president Lorne Yeo wrote an open letter to MLAs stating the need for a day of rest for waterfowl during the hunting season.

"It's important because like anybody else, wildlife needs a break, needs a rest and the only rest it is getting is that seventh day," Yeo said. 

"It has nothing to do with going to church or religion, it has everything to do with wildlife protection for at least one day a week."

Lorne Yeo, president of Hunters for Conversation, says the wildlife needs a day of rest from hunters. (John Robertson/CBC)

Yeo said it is important for hunters to share wildlife with all Islanders who enjoy nature.

"They consider it a necessary part of their lives because, living elbow to elbow on P.E.I., wildlife is all around us and as a matter of fact, it is travelling through the backyards of most Prince Edward Islanders as they know," Yeo said. "If we don't put wildlife first, then we can't justify what we are doing to it."

Conservation is key in wildlife management

Ducks Unlimited Canada is in favour of the change. They say that allowing more people to take part in hunting will encourage more people to take part in sustainable use and conservation.

"When regulations are set by the regulatory bodies, in this case for waterfowl it is done by the Canadian Wildlife Service, it is already accounted for in their harvest models and in their regulations that seven day a week hunting is allowed," said Tom Duffy, manager of Atlantic operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada.

"So there really is no conservation issues related to hunting seven days a week," Duffy said.

Progressive Conservative MLA Jamie Fox introduced the private member's bill to allow hunting on Sundays. (John Robertson/CBC)

Fox is glad his private member's bill has sparked discussion on the issue. He would like to see a trial period of three to four hunting Sundays allowed to see what the impacts could be.

'It's not about opening year round hunting'

"It's a balance, it's not about opening year round hunting," Fox said. "We have information from the Canadian Wildlife Federation that says there will be zero impact on migratory birds or on the wildlife themselves."

Yeo, a hunter of 63 years, encourages others to let their MLAs know how they feel about the issue.

"It's a privilege shared by other segments of society who enjoy wildlife for reasons other than hunting, their voices deserve to be heard."

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With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan and Malcolm Campbell