Before hunters take aim at any deer, city officials want to make sure residents know the hunting rules.
Council passed a bylaw in May allowing bow hunting within city limits in rural areas designated by the city. With Sept.1 being the first day of the whitetail deer season, city officials wanted to make sure all hunters understood the bylaw. Those city officials held a local media conference Monday morning to help get their message to the public.
The bylaw states hunts can only be done from a tree stand or other similar stands that are no lower than three metres in height. Hunters can’t fire an arrow within 75 metres of a dwelling or highway, can only bait the deer from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 and manage deer remains with written permission from landowners.
Thunder Bay Police Service Insp. Alan McKenzie said they will be focusing their efforts on trespassing complaints. To avoid trespassing confusion residents are encouraged to put a sign up on their lawn stating they do not allow hunting on their property.
“I’ve spoken with other communities that have had a bow hunt for a number of years and they said they have had no issues with policing,” McKenzie said.
“It all falls down on ethical hunting practices, which I think people partake in. They should possibly be more cautious because they are closer to our community. I don’t see everyone going door-to-door seeing if they can hunt there.”
In terms of enforcement, he said they will be dealing with any situation based on complaints.
But city police will also be sharing some responsibilities of enforcement with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The MNR steps in whenever hunting regulations come into effect that isn’t covered by the bylaw. City police will ensure hunters are following the 75-metre distance rule and the MNR will cover proper hunting tags and equipment.
“It’s very expensive to get into bow hunting,” he said. “It takes money and a lot of practice.”
One issue that could come up is who’s responsible for a wounded animal that moves from one property to another. In this case a hunter would need permission from the property owner to go on their land to retrieve the deer.
But if the landowner doesn’t agree to the hunter coming on their property, then the deer becomes their possession and will need to have all the proper hunting tags.
Ron Bourret, manager of licensing and enforcement, said they will be asking at the next council meeting to amend the bylaw to increase some of the hunting areas by five per cent.
Environmental Protection Zones were supposed to be included in the bylaw but weren’t because of an oversight.
“It’s going to expand it very little,” Bourret said. “It does make sense and that’s where these animals accumulate. Neebing will be certainly impacted because of the Kaministiquia River area so for them that will be an area that will be certainly doubled.”
Neebing Coun. Linda Rydholm said she hopes the hunt helps control the city’s deer population, but wanted to clarify some of the misunderstandings residents were getting. For instance, she saw on Thunder Bay Television that people thought they could use firearms while bow hunting.
“It should be emphasized that the bow hunt will be allowed in rural parts of Neebing ward and Mcintyre ward and it is bow hunt only,” she said.
“We all have to practice safety and recognize that this is a necessity. We must reduce the deer.”
The city will be hosting an information session on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Confederation College in lecture room 351 for anyone who has questions about the bow hunt.
Residents can also visit the city’s website for more info about the bylaw.