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No Christmas goose this year?
Hunter says Post Office has run out of migratory bird permits three years in a row

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A chronic shortage of Migratory Bird Hunting Permits at Canada Post's Yellowknife location is making it difficult for subsistence hunters to follow the rules, says one Yellowknife duck and goose hunting enthusiast.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tia Hanna and her five-year-old chocolate lab Toad are all set and ready to go hunting for goose and duck. However, with the Post Office out of Migratory Bird Hunting Licences for the third year in a row, the pair have had to wait weeks before heading out. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

"(Canada Post is) the only supplier and yet they do not supply enough. This has happened for at least three years in Yellowknife -- that they sell out in the first or second week of the season and it takes weeks for them to stock up again," said Tia Hanna who has used the permits to hunt geese and ducks for the past 13 years. "In Yellowknife, we pretty much have a month of duck-hunting season, so you could have 50 to 80 per cent of your season written off."

Hanna has tried to secure a permit for the fall hunt at least four times this year beginning on Sept. 6 and most recently on Wednesday and was informed by Canada Post staff that they were sold out each time.

In Canada, hunting migratory birds falls under federal jurisdiction. To hunt ducks, geese, coots and snipe, a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit with a Canadian Habitat Conservation Stamp is required. These permits and stamps are issued through Environment Canada and available only at Canada Post outlets.

Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault told Yellowknifer the national mail carrier is looking into the problem.

"It's definitely going to be fixed for next year," he said. "We've increased the number (of permits) by quite a bit so we're going to be meeting with the demand next year."

The Yellowknife Canada Post office typically has 50 permits on hand at the beginning of the season and staff should gauge when to order more, much like they would with stamps or envelopes, said Legault.

So far this fall, the initial supply of 50 permits, as well as an additional shipment of 30 permits, have sold out. Next year, Canada Post will have 150 permits on hand before Sept. 1, he said.

Although open season on migratory birds in the NWT runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 10, the birds are typically gone by mid-to-late-October, said Hanna.

With the season roughly half over, she is frustrated and questioning whether the continuing lack of permits dissuades hunters from following the rules.

"A lot of people really don't care about the Canadian laws up here, too, so I guess that's an alternative to not getting a licence," she said.

Hanna also questioned whether the staff at the Yellowknife Post Office could be intentionally delaying re-ordering permits because of personal views against hunting since it normally takes weeks between when they run out and when more arrive.

"A lot of people here are sustenance hunters and we're doing it as part of our spiritual existence; it's not just a sport and even to feed our families," she said.

Legault said re-ordering permits should only take a matter of days, and emergency shipments can be filled by a nearby outlet that has a surplus.

In the meantime, Hanna and other rule-abiding hunters like her remain impatiently waiting for permits before harvesting migratory birds. It's a hard wait for Hanna, who calls duck her favourite meat.

"I love mallard and goose and I have a duck hunting dog, a retriever a chocolate lab," she said.

"It's a really cool relationship, working with your dog and then, of course, getting wild meat is healthy."

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