Stamping out spotlighting

As the MLOA president I would like to make it abundantly clear that the MLOA supports the Manitoba Wildlife Federation’s anti-spotlighting campaign, which it outlined at a press conference on Feb. 16.

Operating in rural Manitoba, spotlighting is something that many of our members have unfortunately come across, and I’m sure many of them could tell you stories about personal brushes with spotlighters or the marks they’ve left on their local landscapes and wildlife populations.

We acknowledge and fully respect that indigenous hunters have the right to hunt at night “where it’s safe to do so,” but where is that line? Not all night hunting is creating equal. There is a big difference between calling a moose by moonlight in the remote wilderness and driving around gravel roads at night shining a light into farm fields so you can get some meat to sell on the black market. I don’t know anyone, including most indigenous people, who would consider the second example safe or ethical. Spotlighters also have an impact on wildlife populations, leaving many animals to rot because they can’t find them in the dark, or shooting them like fish in a barrel as they stand blinded by the spotlight. As operators who rely on healthy wildlife populations and a safe environment for our clients to hunt in, spotlighting is a one-two punch that we as business owners cannot accept.

The spotlighting question came up during our political debate at the MLOA convention in December, and we got a few different answers. We heard that the law already differentiates between safe and unsafe night hunting and it’s therefore an enforcement issue, but we respectfully disagree as I don’t think that line is clear to anyone in Manitoba. We also heard that the law won’t change without working in consultation with indigenous hunters, and fair enough. That is apparently how Saskatchewan succeeded in banning spotlighting in much of their province. We support the idea of government asking the First Nations and Metis communities to help define what kinds of night hunting should and should not be allowed, but we urge them to get down to this task immediately. This needs to be addressed now.

Paul Conchatre

Owner, Birdtail Waterfowl

MLOA President