Sunday gun hunting ban to be reviewed in Mapleton

MAPLETON 50ȻƵ A rule prohibiting hunting with firearms on Sundays is set to be reviewed by Township of Mapleton staff.

Resident Ray Kuper asked Mapleton council on June 11 to allow people to hunt with guns on Sundays.

The township already permits the discharging of firearms on Sundays, but for target practice only.

50ȻƵYou can target practice all day long,50ȻƵ Kuper said. 50ȻƵYou can unload hundreds of bullets into a target … all Sunday long.

50ȻƵBut for some reason you can50ȻƵt hunt.50ȻƵ

Sunday hunting is only permitted with a bow and arrow, and during specific wildlife seasons, such as turkey and deer.

The province permits hunting deer with shotguns for just one week each year in this area, Kuper noted.

And many hunters are unable to hunt during the week because they work Monday through Friday, leaving Saturday as the only possible day for hunting.

If Mapleton permitted gun hunting on Sundays, that would double the amount of time many local hunters have for hunting deer with shotguns.

50ȻƵHunting is just another sport,50ȻƵ Kuper said, and it’s 50ȻƵone of the safest sports.”

Hunters must all complete hunter safety and firearms safety courses, and Kuper said 0.001 per cent of sporting accidents are connected to hunting.

Kuper also spoke to the wildlife management benefits of hunting, noting it reduces damage to farmers’ crops from foraging deer and also reduces car accidents from collisions with wildlife.

Sunday gun hunting elsewhere

About 90% of municipalities in Ontario already allow gun hunting on Sundays, Kuper said.

Minto council votedunanimously in favour of permitting hunting with guns on Sundays earlier this year.

That made it the 192nd municipality in Ontario to lift the ban on Sunday gun hunting, according to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

Wellington North, North Perth, and Perth East permit hunting with guns on Sundays.

According to OFAH manager Mark Ryckman, the organization 50ȻƵhas been the driving force behind the expansion of Sunday gun hunting opportunities since 2005, when we, along with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, successfully convinced the provincial government to liberalize regulations in southern Ontario.

50ȻƵAt that time, 67 municipalities … immediately passed resolutions in support of Sunday gun hunting,50ȻƵ Ryckman states in a letter to Mapleton council.

History in Mapleton

The matter was last brought to council in 2016, at which time 25 people attended a public meeting on the topic.

The majority of speakers favoured Sunday gun hunting.

There were also 37 written submissions at that time 50ȻƵ 29 in favour and eight opposed, as well as an email from then-OPP inspector Scott Lawson explaining the challenges police face when responding to calls involving hunting with firearms.

Council voted against changing the bylaw prohibiting hunting with guns on Sundays, with councillor Michael Martin the only vote in favour of changing the rule.

Councillor Marlene Ottens said on June 11 she has since changed her position.

50ȻƵI50ȻƵm not a hunter. I50ȻƵm not a fan of it; not a fan of guns, it50ȻƵs not my thing,50ȻƵ she said. 50ȻƵBut I respect people50ȻƵs desire to do that.”

Ottens added,50ȻƵThe more you talk to people the more you learn about it and the more you understand that, as you said, you only get one weekend a year where you can do that and if you want to put a deer in the freezer [and] you50ȻƵre working all week, that gives you two days instead of one to do that.

50ȻƵSo I appreciate the request and bringing it back to council.50ȻƵ

Misconceptions?

OFAH representative Dave Mendler accompanied Kuper for the delegation and spoke about what he considered misconceptions around hunting.

50ȻƵA lot of people50ȻƵs perceptions of hunters go back 40, 50 years 50ȻƵ a bunch of guys out hunting and then going out for a few beers after,50ȻƵ he said.

But that50ȻƵs often not the case anymore, Mendler added, noting, 50ȻƵThe largest demographic that has now started hunting is women … and part of the reason for that is the Sunday gun hunting.

50ȻƵBecause now it has become more of a family sport … and allowing for a Sunday hunt is always going to allow more families to get out together.

“Just like camping or fishing or whatever, it50ȻƵs just another sport that they can all partake in.50ȻƵ

Kuper and Mendler argue the Sunday hunting ban is outdated and out of touch with current lifestyles, where people have moved away from a 50ȻƵMonday-to-Friday, nine-to-five world.

50ȻƵAt one point you weren50ȻƵt even allowed to darn socks on Sundays,50ȻƵ Kuper noted.50ȻƵAnd we50ȻƵve thrown that right out the window, too.”

Mapleton council directed staff to come back to council with a report after reviewing the bylaw.

Reporter