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Why you can be a hunter and still environmentally conscience.
The joys of hunting are many. I have recently received my Possession and Acquisition License, and I am working diligently to become a proficient enough shot to go on my first hunt. The adrenaline that courses through your system at actually aiming at a target is exhilarating. The beauty and peace of enjoying the outdoors is breathtaking. I am sure that enjoying a meal that you have caught yourself will be amazing. And we can enjoy all this and still be environmentally conscious-that is the part I found most astonishing.

I always saw hunters as people that use the woods for their own pleasure without any regard to the condition of the environment. I have certainly heard a great many complain about the rules and regulations that they have to follow, and more just ignoring and breaking the rules. But, to enjoy the hunt, a hunter can still hold environmental conservation in high regard. Those rules just need to be followed, and this is not as hard as it may seem.

I am not saying all hunters are careless. There are many who gladly follow the rules. To emulate these responsible hunters only takes finding the right resources in order to become familiar with the rules that regulate hunting practises.

The Hunting and Trapping Guide

Every year the government of Newfoundland releases the Hunting and Trapping Guide. This guide informs the reader of the rules and regulations that govern hunting in the province. As you read the guide you will immediately become aware of the lengths the Government will go to to protect the animals of this province and the environment in general.

The Guide concisely provides a limit on the numbers of any particular animal that can be hunted called bag limits. This protects the populations of animals by making sure over hunting of any species does not occur.

Examples of bag limits that are in the guide include: You can only possess 40 Snow Shoe Hare during the season. There is a combined limit for Willow and Rock Ptarmigan, and this a bit differently than with Snow Shoe Hare. A person can catch and keep six birds per day for an overall limit of twelve birds for the entire season on the Avalon Peninsula, Burin, and the Topsails. On the rest of the Island of Newfoundland a hunter can possess twelve of these birds for an overall limit of twenty-four birds during the entire season. Ruffled and Spruce Grouse also have a combined limit. A hunter can possess twenty birds per day for an overall limit of forty birds during the entire season.

The Hunting and Trapping Guide sets out kinds of weapons and ammunition that can be used for each type of animal. I am not sure of the reasons for these regulations, but I am sure that it is to protect animals in some fashion.

It is prohibited to hunt without a license, and the Guide clearly lists all the rules regarding obtaining and using licenses. The hunter is given information about the age at which a person can obtain a license. There is a limited amount of licenses given out to prevent over hunting. The Guide provides the current population numbers for each species.

The Hunting and Trapping Guide gives much more useful information to assist any hunter in having an enjoyable and successful hunt and still maintain the balance that the environment needs to flourish. It can be obtained and read online. It is easy to download a physical form to keep on hand at all times.

Education and Courses

Before you even buy your first gun, you must complete the Canadian Firearms Safety course. The one that I took educated the student in the use of unrestricted firearms i.e. rifles and shotguns. There is a separate course for those who wish to use restricted firearms.

This course instructs people in the proper handling and use of firearms. We learned about the different kinds of unrestricted firearms that exist. There many different types, something I was unaware of before I took the course.

While doing the course I learned how to safely carry a gun. This not only protects animals that you do not intend to hunt but the lives and safety of other hunters in the field.

During the class discussions we exchanged ideas and information that enlightened many of us of common practises that are, in fact dangerous and prohibited. For example, we learned that some people are not aware that if firearms are stored in the home they must be securely locked up in a case and out of reach of those not familiar with the handling of weapons.

All these things taught me how to enjoy my hunt but not needlessly endanger animals or the environment.

To receive my license to actually begin hunting I had to complete the Hunter’s Education Course. This course specifically taught the proper behaviour and practises for hunters during the hunting seasons. Along with the text book the we used our instructor routinely referred to the Hunting and Trapping Guide during our discussions.

The very first section of the Hunter’s Education Course specifically addressed hunting and the environment. We discussed ecology, wildlife management, animals’ habitats and the best way to conserve these habitats, and ways of monitoring populations like birth and death rates of different types of animals. One take away I will always remember is “Leave it as you found it.” It was stressed all through this course to make sure that you leave nothing, or as little as possible of yourselves in a forest setting so as not to upset the balance that exists for the wildlife there.

One particularly interesting thing that I learned in the Hunter’s Education Course was about lead shot. Many ducks and other water fowl are injured or killed after eating left over lead shot-the lead poisons them. Sometimes it is not possible to completely pick up and take away your used ammunition shells, some smaller ones are very difficult find in long grass or rocky terrain. Therefore, it is prohibited to use lead ammunition during a hunt. This is another good way to protect animals and the environment as a whole.

We were taught the proper use of equipment and vehicles that are commonly used during a hunt and how to ethically conduct a hunt and treat animals.

Online Resourses

There are many websites that make environmental information readily available. Each province has its own Hunters and Trappers Guide, and each can be found on it own website. The Environment and Natural Resources of Environment Canada’s site provides information about weather, fishing and hunting including permits, and environmental assessments and sustainability. There are many resources readily available literally at your finger tips.

If we look there is no excuse for not maintaining the environment while hunting. Hunting and environmental awareness are not diametrically opposed, are they?
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