Stupid Laws

A few months ago, I had an article about ‘Stupid Laws’ published. I thought I’d post the original, unedited version. Rather than post the whole story right off, I’ll post it in pieces. Here’s the first part, which talks about grouse-like birds.

Stupid Laws

by Bruce Ranta

We all have our personal pet peeves about the law. That’s because there’s lots of laws we find unpalatable – few of us are happy with our tax laws, and most of us gripe about speed limits. Still, most laws we don’t like aren’t really bad, we just don’t like them.

On the other hand, there’s an old adage that says ‘The law is an ass’. And that’s because there are some really bad pieces of legislation that don’t seem to have ever been thought through properly. In fact, some rules and regulations are just plain stupid. Here’s a look at some of the stupid laws used to help manage our fish and wildlife resources.

Let’s start on a positive note. One of the most stupid laws ever to affect hunters was the long-gun registry. Thank goodness that one is history. Tossed into the legislative dustbin, the remains of the long-gun registry could use some company.

One of my favourite stupid laws and one that’s been around a long time, has to do with the Gray (Hungarian) Partridge season in WMU 13, a large WMU which includes the City of Thunder Bay. In 2012, the season ran from Sept. 15 to Nov. 10, with a daily bag limit of 8 birds and a possession limit of 16. That’s pretty much what it’s been for several decades. The problem is, the last recorded sighting of a hun in WMU 13, according to Thunder Bay Field Naturalist and records keeper Dr. Nick Escott, was in 1986!

On a similar vein, one has to wonder why there is an open season for both residents and non-residents, generally longer than three months in duration – for ptarmigan – in every WMU from 1 to 71 (except Algonquin Provincial Park). When was the last ptarmigan seen in Prince Edward County? Anywhere south of the French River? Most of northwestern Ontario? I’ve lived in Kenora for the past 30+ years, and although there is a Ptarmigan Bay on Lake of the Woods, I’ve only ever seen one ptarmigan in the area, an injured bird my wife received from an Aboriginal person from a nearby community. Why there is a season at all in most of Ontario, especially in the central and southern regions – let alone a daily bag limit of 5 and a possession limit of 15 – boggles the mind. Maybe the birds are there but we just aren’t tuned to their habits, or they migrate during snowstorms, and since they’re white in winter, we just can’t see them? Naw . . .

At least falconers can only take 3 ptarmigan a day, and can possess only 9.

By the way, anywhere there’s a season for ptarmigan, you can also hunt sharp-tailed grouse. Another opportunity to bag another 5 birds a day and possess 15! WOW! Again, falconers have lower limits. Too bad for them.

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