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Duck hunters spotted in Shearstown Estuary

The Shearstown Estuary borders two municipalities — Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay.
The Shearstown Estuary borders two municipalities — Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay.

Bay Roberts CAO says area is a no-shooting zone

BAY ROBERTS, NL — Ducks in the Shearstown Estuary have recently run into some gun trouble.

During a regular council meeting held in Bay Roberts on Tuesday night, Jan. 9, Coun. Geoff Seymour brought up some issues the town has recently run into with duck hunters hunting at the local estuary, shared between Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay.

Seymour, speaking on behalf of the Wetlands Joint Management Committee (JMC) said hunters had recently driven in from St. John’s to hunt at the estuary shortly before the holiday season. He said RCMP, as well as Joint Management Committee chairwoman Cathy Kleinwort, were involved in the matter.

Seymour indicated the hunters were not breaking any laws by hunting at the estuary, to the surprise of some council members.

“Bottom line is, they’re allowed hunting there, as long as they follow the regulations. It’s not an actual sanctuary,” said Seymour. “You can hunt in an estuary as long as you follow the guidelines.”

Nigel Black, Chief Administrative Officer for Bay Roberts, then spoke up, stating because of certain intricacies in the law, the estuary is still a no-shooting zone.

“We did a little bit of additional work on this afterwards, and with the distances (from homes in the area), that entire area, even though it’s not protected as a sanctuary, it is protected by those regulations. It is a no shooting zone,” said Black. “It’s about 1,000-metres from the school, which takes in almost all of it, and anywhere that is doesn’t take in, is taken in by the houses. We worked with provincial, federal, and wildlife enforcement, and determined that the distances do cover that entire estuary.”

Following this, Seymour added the hunters were unaware of the specific regulations pertaining to the area, and had no ill intentions. Black also noted that, as the hunters were in the muddy hole side, toward the back of the estuary, they would not be able to see any homes or schools that were nearby.

“RCMP investigated it, and spoke to these guys. They were totally unaware that they were breaking any rules,” Seymour said. “In their mind, they were operating under all the regulations.”

As a result of the incident, Kleinwort is pursuing sanctuary status for the estuary, which she hopes will prevent any further hunting in the area.

Toward the end of the discussion, Seymour made a motion to erect some signage in the area outlining the regulations and stating that, due to distance regulations, the estuary is a no-shooting zone. As the estuary has only two entrances – in Shearstown and Spaniard’s Bay – Seymour hoped to see signs placed at both ends.

Because the estuary is shared between Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay, the motion was sent along to Bay Roberts’ Municipal Enforcement Officer, Perry Bowering, who will work alongside Seymour and the Town of Spaniard’s Bay to see the proper signage placed in the estuary.

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