Gore Bay committee recommends additional hunting tags be provided

GORE BAY—The Town of Gore Bay general government committee is going to recommend that additional hunting permits be provided by the province to hunt deer in the three locations where these permits are already provided.

“If the owners of these three properties had permits to say take five deer before, maybe this can be expanded to say nine or 10,” said Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane, at a committee meeting last week.

Town Clerk Annette Clarke had distributed copies of the town bylaws on deer feeding and discharge of firearms to the committee.

The meeting was told that there are three areas in town where hunting permits are provided to hunt deer, at the Clover Hill Dairy, Jim Wright’s and the Flanagan property. The committee talked about having this extended to include at least three other properties in town.

Mayor Lane noted that except for designated areas where the discharge of firearms is allowed (for instance agricultural property, where the current hunting permits are provided) there is no hunting allowed within town limits. And for the three additional properties proposed, the requirement for a minimum distance of 300 metres required from a hunting location adjacent to any type of building in town (residential, commercial, industrial) these three would not be within the required limit therefore no hunting could take place on them. “The main thing is we have to make sure the public is safe, that is why this in place and there is no hunting in town,” he said.

“So for instance, George Purvis’ property doesn’t apply under this, and hunting is not allowed,” said committee chair Jack Clark, “because the discharge of firearms is not permitted for anyone whose property is within 300 metres of a residence, or business.”

The areas where the discharge of firearms is allowed are already in place,” said Mayor Lane. “What I think we need to do is pursue extra permits being issued for the owners of these properties (Clover Hill Dairy, Jim Wright’s and the Flanagan’s). And if these permits have not been applied for or been issues we need to find out why.”

Mayor Lane pointed out he has been approached by two hunters, one being landowner Jim Wright, who said there would be more benefit to having these permits issued after the regular deer hunt season.

“It is those areas that the permits are already in place for, that the deer are coming through,” said Mayor Lane. “To say deer are only on one or a  couple of person’s property is not right. They are just living on smaller acres and moving back and forth throughout the town. If we can get the extra tags in those areas that we know deer are moving through, for those places already in place, would help.”

Joyce Foster provided a couple of other areas that could be looked on the East Bluff that are larger properties that might meet the requirements for the hunting bylaw, and it was agreed that this should be explored.

Mr. Clark said, “so one of the things we have to do is check with the MNRF as to how many deer hunt permits have been issued, and whether additional tags (for the three locations) can be increased.”

And it was noted that one of the issues is that landowners who have areas where tags are permitted have not been requesting them.

“I know in one case the permits were cut to three in one year, while at one point they were supposed to increase to 12 in one year,” said Ms. Foster.

It was agreed the town will check with the MNRF as to possibly changing the dates the permits can be used and get the landowners back requesting the permits for their properties.

“I’m pretty sure that the ministry will go for the later hunt times (on the three designated properties),” said Charlie Turner.

Mr. Clark asked if the group could talk about the options of a sterilization program or relocation of deer. Ms. Foster explained that in her research, “in one place (in Canada) 13 deer were transported out of town and four came back. It didn’t work. And a sterilization program out west cost $200 per deer.”

“I have been told (by a former conservation officer) if we want to make any difference we need to harvest between 25-30 deer a year,” she said.

“If each of the current property owners where hunting is allowed got 10 extra tags each for those areas, there would be your 30,” said Mayor Lane. “The key is to have these property owners make sure they apply for the extra permits.”

“I was reading our current bylaw on prohibiting the discharge of firearms in town,” said Mayor Lane. He said enforcement is in place for those that hunt deer in town illegally, but not against the person who authorizes someone to hunt on their property. “Currently we could charge someone for discharging a firearm, but not the landowner. I don’t think that’s right. They are both in breach of the bylaw and this needs to be amended to include both could be charged. No person should be able to discharge a firearm or give authority for this (except in the three designated areas). There needs to be equal liability.This needs to be amended.” The committee agreed.

Mr. Clark noted that another issue that needs to be discussed is the feeding of deer in town.

Mayor Lane said, “under our current bylaw, it is basically illegal to have a bird feeder in Gore Bay.” He called for addition to the bylaw to ensure that owners or occupants of land are not penalized for having bird feeders that might result in deer feeding from spilled feed, for example.

After discussion it was agreed by the committee it will recommend to council that an amendment will be added on the bylaw, “that this bylaw shall not apply to any owner or occupier of land that makes food available for the primary purpose of feeding birds.”

Ms. Foster also inquired if “the committee can recommend to council that we ask the government to do something to help us out with the problem we are having with deer. We are not the only ones, there are a lot of municipalities in the province that are having difficulty with deer in their areas. Deer are supposed to be managed by the MNRF. Maybe the town could urge the ministry and lobby other municipalities to do the same, to have the ministry help out as well.”

“One thing they should be doing is issuing more (deer) hunting tags,” said Mayor Lane. “I understand for instance (Wildlife Management Unit) 43B the deer tags are not filled 100 percent.”

Mayor Lane told the Recorder after the meeting, “definitely we are going to pressure the MNRF, they are to manage the deer, and control the tags. And it is not the job of the town to control enforcement. Public safety is the most important thing.”