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Hunting restrictions raise slippery slope concerns: Alberta Conservation Association

While a ban on spear hunting might not affect many people in Lloydminster, The Alberta Conservation Association says it may be a slippery slope.

The Alberta Government announced this week that spears and spear throwing items such as atlatls will be banned. One reason for the ban was outcry after a 2016 YouTube video showed a hunter killing a bear with a spear and celebrating his kill.

Alberta Conservation Association President Todd Zimmerling says that the spear hunting ban was something the government had in the works even before the video and wasn’t really a surprise to him.

“I think the vast majority of hunters in the province are going to look at this as being something that doesn’t directly impact them, they weren’t using atlatls or spears up to this point and had no intention to, so I don’t think they’ll see an impact from that. More importantly, it’ll be a positive thing to show that we are concerned overall as hunters that any method that’s being used can be shown to be humane and ethical.”

While local gun shops agree that the ban will not have an effect on them, Zimmerling is concerned that this may be the start of a slippery slope into the government making more hunting restrictions based on public perception.

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“That’s something that we as hunters need to be cognizant of. We have to ensure that we spend a lot more time talking to the general public, the non-hunting public about what it is we do, how we do it, the steps we take to make sure we’re making ethical and human kills, how we use the animal, how we make sure we’re not wasting, all those kinds of things are part of what the discussion has to be so that people aren’t having a visceral reaction to something they see on YouTube.”

Zimmerling adds that the spear and atlatl ban is not necessary permanent if it can be shown that spear hunting fits ethical criteria, which could be met with training and education programs.

As of this hunting season, rifles, shotguns, archery gear such as bows and crossbows and muzzle loading guns will be the only allowed in Alberta. Anyone caught breaking the new hunting restrictions could face up to a $50,000 fine, a year in jail, or both.

With files from Erica Fisher. 

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