Proposed duck hunting changes prompt protest

The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) is proposing new hunting regulations for ducks and other waterfowl on P.E.I.

The proposed changes would lengthen the season and increase the total number of black ducks hunters can take per day.

Lorne Yeo is protesting the proposal. He says by encouraging more hunting of the animal, the CWS is threatening the species' survival.

"Winter weather setting in, with habitat reduced and ducks, especially, driven into small water holes [they] become victimized in spring hole shooting," he said.

Yeo points to declines in the past as reason not to increase the hunt in the future.

"You have figures going down and bag limits being increased. It doesn't make sense," he said.

Duncan Crawford, with the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation, defended the proposed changes by the CWS.

"They're widely regarded as the only people watching these populations, and the trend shows that black duck populations are up," he said.

Black duck populations on P.E.I. are up 32 per cent up over the past year, according to Environment Canada.

Yeo said he isn't comforted by the recent increase.

"Once the damage is done, you can't mitigate and bring back that wildlife you've already shot, so we're advocating not to put yourself in that kind of position," he said.

Crawford said if the winter weather forces black ducks to cluster in small areas, the province will shut down the hunt immediately.

"The province of P.E.I. certainly wouldn't allow a hunting season to take place that's going to cause undue stress or over-harvest of any particular species," said Crawford.

The public has until March 22 to tell the CWS what they think about the proposed amendments.

If they're approved, the changes will go into effect for the fall 2013 hunting season.

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