| Nov 10, 2005

Legalese - November 10, 2005

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Legalese - November 10, 2005

The Hunting Column 2005

by Susan Irwin, Lawyer/Executive Director

A column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

The crack of gunfire, not to mention the sporting of fashionable hunter orange, are unmistakable signs that the firearm-hunting season for deer has opened in our area. Another indicator is the return of this annual column that is devoted to reviewing a number of legal issues that should be considered by hunters before heading out to the watch or blind.


In particular, the location of the hunt should be a key consideration. Responsible hunters know that trespassing on private land is perhaps one of the most common sources of complaint about hunters. If it’s not Crown Land , and you don't have clear (preferably written) permission to hunt on land that is not your own, STAY OFF THE PROPERTY! Wandering where you are not allowed to be can have serious consequences and can, depending on the circumstances, result in charges. Besides a fine, such nuisance behaviour can also result in the revocation of hunting licences.

Hunters need to be aware that in addition to having and carrying their hunting licence they must also have their firearms licence with them when they are in possession of their rifles or shotguns. Conservation Officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as the police, may ask a hunter to produce his or her firearms licence. If the hunter does not have a valid Possession and Acquisition Licence (“PAL”) formerly known as a Firearms Acquisition Certificate (“FAC”), or a Possession Only Licence (“POL”), he or she can expect to be charged and to have their firearms seized.

Hunters will also be required to produce proof that the firearm they are using has been registered. It is an offence for any person to be in possession of a firearm without also having in their possession a Registration Certificate issued by the Canadian Firearms Centre for that rifle or shotgun. In other words, hunters when asked by a Conservation Officer or a peace officer will have to be able to produce not only valid hunting licences but also Firearms Licences and Registration Certificates. Unless looking for trouble, don’t leave home without them!

Breaches of the rules and regulations dealing with firearms are criminal offences and a conviction will result in a criminal record. A hunter who isn't up to date on the rules associated with the sport will not find much sympathy in our Courts.

Finally, it always comes as a surprise to find out how many hunters simply ignore the issue of their legal liability in the event of an accident. Although the rate of injury and death for hunters participating in the hunt is extremely low, accidents can and do happen. The financial consequences that can arise from an accidental shooting, both for the shooter and the victim, are overwhelming. Some hunting and shooting organizations offer inexpensive liability insurance to their members that may also include coverage for accidental property damage.

Further information on hunting is available from the Ministry of Natural Resources through its annual hunting handbook (Regulations Summary), its general information line: 1-800-667-1940, and through its website “www.mnr.gov.on.ca”.

Information on the rules and regulations with respect to firearms can be obtained by calling the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1-800-731-4000.

Susan Irwin

Lawyer/Executive Director

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