Action: Learn about Conservation Enforcement
In response to community concerns, SAM has collected some FAQs related to enforcement of fish, wildlife, and habitat conservation. These FAQs are intended to provide clarification, but are not intended to be exhaustive or provide legal advice; please call 1 877 820 0999 to speak with an officer if you have any questions. Please note that Indigenous hunters may have different regulations.
Law enforcement officers encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the outdoors and participate in recreational activities such as hunting and fishing. Regulations are in place to ensure that these activities are done safely and with respect to other people and wildlife, in order to protect this province's resources for generations to come.
To Report Poaching (Ability to be Anonymous)
24/7 Provincial Report Line: 1-877-820-0999
Are Conservation Areas under SAM closed to hunting?
No – a conservation area (known as Management Units in older agreements) designated through a municipality in Newfoundland and Labrador and the provincial Wildlife Division, in partnership with SAM, under the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture does not change any existing hunting and trapping rights. If hunting and trapping is otherwise legal in the area (or in part of the area), it will remain that way after a Conservation Area is designated. There is no special or extra enforcement of fish and wildlife regulations in these areas; Conservation Areas are meant to protect habitat and mostly concern development and uses that are compatible with healthy habitat. However, some municipalities have elected to close sections of their Conservation Areas to hunting (see below). This process is not related to SAM.
Are there some areas across the province that are closed to hunting?
Yes - certain areas specified on page 60-63 in the Hunting Regulations such as the Codroy Valley Waterfowl Area, Carmanville Pond Closed Area, etc. are closed to hunting, shooting, and/or snaring, depending on the specific area.
What are the open and closed seasons?
What are the distances to be able to hunt near a school, dwelling, etc?
It is illegal to discharge a firearm within:
1,000 meters (1 km or 1093 yards) of a school, playground or athletic field
300 meters (0.3 km or 328 yards) of a dwelling
These regulations exist for safety reasons. Distances from these places can easily be calculated with a rangefinder or GPS. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know how far away they are from these places.
In addition, one must exercise “reasonable care for the safety of other persons”, so even if the person discharging the firearm is farther than those distances, they still need to act in a responsible way if there are other people present in an area.
See Section 111. (1) & (2) of the Wild Life Regulations for more detail.
Is it illegal to hunt within a municipal boundary?
Municipalities (towns and cities) often have two ‘boundaries’ – one called the Municipal Boundary where a council can exercise powers under the Municipalities Act. However, many towns also have a separate larger Municipal Planning Area where the council can apply zoning and a municipal plan. The most important regulation is the distance that firearms can be discharged from a dwelling, school, playground, etc. (see above), which is a provincial regulation that must always be followed. Individual by-laws relating to discharge of firearms within municipal boundaries may also apply for certain municipalities – contact your Town Manager or Town Clerk to learn more about your specific situation. If there is no specific municipal regulation in your town or city, follow the general provincial guidelines as above.
What birds are legal game in Newfoundland and Labrador?
The following birds can all be legally harvested in the province:
Birds not on this list (such as shorebirds, songbirds, hawks, owls, and all other groups) cannot be legally hunted. This is to protect their populations – many of these types of birds have declined over the past few decades, and many almost went extinct in the past due to heavy hunting pressures.
Grouse and ptarmigan require a Small Game Licence which can be purchased at sporting goods, hardware or general stores throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, or at Government Services Centres. An Outdoor Identification Card is also required, and open and closed seasons, bag limits, and various other regulations must be followed.
Ducks, murre (turr), geese, and snipe are hunted under the Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations and all separate prohibitions for these hunts must be followed. For example, you are required to possess a valid federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit with a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp to hunt migratory birds in Canada.
What is considered a firearm?
Section 2. (f) "Firearm" means a device by which a missile is discharged by means of an explosive propellant or by compressed air or by a spring and includes sporting guns of all calibres, automatic or autoloading guns, repeating guns, pump guns, set guns, swivel guns, punt guns, rifles, pistols and revolvers of every description, crossbows, longbows and compound bows.
This means that in the province of NL air guns are treated as firearms, and all types of bows are treated as firearms.
Section 107. (16) A person shall not hunt any wild life and a person shall not carry, transport or possess in any area frequented by wild life a firearm which propels a missile by means of compressed air, compressed gas or by a spring but this section shall not be construed as prohibiting the hunting of wild life with hunting bows and hunting arrows as provided for in section 108.
This would include all pellet/BB guns as they propel a pellet, dart, or BB by means of compressed air or a CO2 gas cylinder or cartridge.
Is ATV use legal on all beaches in Newfoundland and Labrador?
No. The regulations relating to ATVs (Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Regulations, Section 5) state that ATVs are only to be used in approved areas. Section 14 states that:
The minister may cause to have erected warning, cautionary, directional, limiting or prohibiting signs respecting the operation of vehicles and the operator of a vehicle who fails to obey the signs is guilty of an offence under the Act.
Although generally provincial beaches are open to ATV use, in specific instances signs have been erected prohibiting ATV use on certain beaches in the province, in particular in relation to protection of nesting beaches of the endangered Piping Plover. Do your part to protect important wildlife and respect these closed areas when riding.
Is it illegal to to drive ATVs on bogs and other wetlands?
Research has shown that bogs and wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador are sensitive to damage and cannot always recover from ATV use. For this reason, ATVs are to be used on approved areas, and Section 2 (c) of the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Regulations specifies that “approved areas” are forested lands, trails, approved beaches, farms, snow-covered frozen lands, etc. Other areas such as bogs and wetlands are not approved areas for ATV use.
By avoiding bogs and wetlands, you are doing your part to protect the environmentally sensitive land near where you live. This helps wildlife habitat remain healthy and intact. The exceptions are that is legal to use an ATV on a bog or wetland to retrieve a legally hunted animal, or on approved trails that cross through. Fines can apply to violations, as well as seizure and possible forfeiture of equipment (i.e. ATV).
This press release from the province states: “Bogs and other environmentally sensitive areas are out of bounds except for the lawful transportation of an animal from the place where it was killed.”
Who is involved in enforcement related to fish, wildlife, firearms, ATVs, and conservation in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?
Federal Wildlife Enforcement Officers from Canadian Wildlife Service, part of Environment and Climate Change Canada: Offices in Mount Pearl and Corner Brook who are authorized to enforce federal wildlife legislation
Towns or cities may have Municipal enforcement officers and/or municipal police, such as the Gander municipal police (Community Constables). Municipal enforcement officers and/or municipal police can enforce municipal by-laws within municipal boundaries.
How are migratory bird regulations enforced?
The Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA), which is a federal regulation, protects most species of migratory birds from being hunted, with notable exceptions for game species like ducks etc. Officially, they are enforced by federal Canadian Wildlife Service enforcement officers. However, there are many more provincial Fish and Wildlife Officers than there are federal CWS, and they can work in partnership with federal CWS enforcement officers on cases that involve birds protected under this Act. Therefore, contacting the provincial Fish and Wildlife enforcement line at 1 877 820 0999 is still recommended, even for migratory birds issues.
Where does the money from fines go?
The money from various federal enforcement fines may go to the Environmental Damages Fund, or back to the province in the case of many provincial offenses. For the federal Fisheries Act, officers can request that the money go back to projects near the community where the offenses took place.
Cutting and Tree Buffer FAQs
Is it true that trees can't be cut within 15 meters of the edge of a water body (stream, river, lake, pond, etc?)
In most cases, the Crown reserves a buffer around water bodies, meaning that when Crown land was/is granted, the first 15 meters from the high water mark of the water body do not pass to the grantee, as specified in Section 7 (1) fo the Lands Act:
7. (1) Where Crown lands that border on a lake, pond, river, the seashore or foreshore are granted, leased or licensed under this Part, it is considered, in the absence of an express grant, lease or licence of those Crown lands, that a strip of Crown lands not less than 15 meters wide around and adjoining the lake, pond, seashore or foreshore or along each bank of the river was not intended to pass and did not pass to the grantee, lessee or licensee.
When provincial forestry officers issue wood cutting permits, they also use a shoreline reservation around water bodies, so cutting of trees in these areas around water bodies is not permitted due to the combination of these reasons (the land does not belong to you, you do not have a permit to cut on that Crown Land). See Section 3 (2) Forestry Act under Prohibition:
3. (2) A person shall not cut Crown timber for personal use without a domestic cutting permit.
In cases where the trees in the shoreline reservation are being cut, Forestry Officers can investigate and issue tickets. For any issues with cutting of wood inside Crown shoreline reservations contact your closest Forestry district office