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Plenty of views as province considers lifting ban on Sunday hunting

March 06 2015

The New Glasgow News

Published on March 06, 2015 

By Carol Dunn

SCOTSBURN – At the Scotsburn Country Store, plenty of debate has taken place lately about whether a ban on Sunday hunting should be lifted.

The Scotsburn store sells hunting supplies, making it a popular spot to discuss the pros and cons.

Caleb Vachon is part-owner of the store, and the manager of its hunting section. He said he’s heard “very mixed opinions from customers. A lot of people are for it, and a lot of people are against it.”

He said he’s heard a range of viewpoints, from concern about the number of animals that would be harvested if the ban was removed and the religious point of view that Sunday is a day of rest, to those who are against hunting altogether and those who want one day a week where they can go for a walk in the woods without wearing orange.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources is seeking Nova Scotians’ opinions on lifting the prohibition. The Nova Scotia Wildlife Act states that for the most part, no one is allowed to hunt on Sundays with the exception of Mi’kmaq people, who have the right to hunt on any day. If the ban was lifted, anyone with the proper licence could hunt on Sundays during hunting season.

"In my travels across Nova Scotia, I've met various people who wish to discuss the prospect of Sunday hunting," said Zach Churchill, minister of Natural Resources. "No decision has been made, but the public consultation will provide further information about how Nova Scotians feel with regard to this issue."

Vachon is in favour of lifting the ban. “For me personally, especially as a business owner, we’re open six days a week, so if there was hunting on Sunday, that’s one day a week I could actually hunt.”

He has been a hunter for about 18 years, and said he hunts both small and big game. “I personally hunt for food. I grew up with wild meat – it’s definitely more affordable. I'm not a trophy hunter. I'm not hunting for big horns.”

His father, store owner Dan Vachon, has hunted both small game and big game for about 25 years. He said while he would like to see the ban lifted, he likely wouldn’t hunt on Sundays himself. “If it’s in keeping with the rest of the country, I think it’s a good idea.”

Hunting on Sundays is permitted in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and some Sunday hunting is allowed in New Brunswick, on three specific dates during hunting season.

Kevin Mason of Stellarton has hunted for about 30 years, and would like to see the practice permitted on Sundays. “I think it would be a good thing all the way around.”

He said he knows people who want to hunt, but don’t, because they work on weekdays and don’t want to spend the money on a licence they can only use on Saturdays. “The more licences – the more money would be spent on fuel, bullets, hunting supplies,” he said. “That’s more money going into the economy.”

But not everyone agrees.

Dawn Daling is a runner who uses the trail on Fitzpatrick Mountain, and said she likes having a day where she doesn’t have to worry about hunters in the woods.

“It’s nice to have one day a week where the woods is accessible to everybody without being afraid of being shot.”

She said her children also like to use the woods on their property near their house, to build forts and to learn survival skills. “On Sunday we don’t have to wear hunter’s orange.”

Jeff Bishop, executive director of the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia, would also like to see the prohibition kept in place. “We do not want the ban lifted,” he said.

“To us it’s not a matter of Sunday hunting, it could be Tuesday hunting. It’s an issue of landowner rights versus land-user rights. If the province proceeds to lift the prohibition of hunting on Sundays, we believe this steps on the rights of folks who own private lands in Nova Scotia.”

His group has 600 members across the province – with 46 of those in Pictou County – representing small private woodlot owners, Christmas tree producers, saw mills, pulp and paper mills and silviculturists.

He said although “No Hunting” and “Private Property” signs are posted, he often hears from members that hunters are using their lands without permission. “This can create a bit of a safety issue. There have been some close calls.”

He said many people want to go hiking or biking, without the worry of hunters on their land.

“I know some folks who say they’ve never had an issue with hunters. They can allow them on their property, but that is their choice.”

He said not everybody seeks permission, and it should be an individual landowner’s decision whether to allow hunting on their property. “And that’s the issue.”

“We encourage folks to be voicing their thoughts on this to the provincial government to ensure all Nova Scotians are heard, and landowners’ rights are respected,” said Bishop.  

Nova Scotians can access background information and the consultation questionnaire online at www.novascotia.ca/natr/hunt/sunday or by calling 902-424-7955.

The consultation period is open until midnight, April 10.

About 50,000 Nova Scotians hold hunting licences. Depending on the species, hunting season usually runs from early September to early December.

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B0N 1C0

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