Hunting age lowered to 12

The minimum age to hunt small game and varmints in New Brunswick is being lowered to 12 from 14, the provincial government announced on Thursday.

The change takes effect on Friday.

The announcement comes one day after a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources told CBC News that the fall hunting guide, which included the lower age limit, had been printed prematurely.

Provincial officials were still reviewing the results of public consultations on the proposed change to the Fish and Wildlife Act and no decisions had been made, the spokesman had said in response to criticism from a political scientist at Mount Allison University.

Mario Levesque said the printed hunting guide undermined the consultation process and gave the impression the government was not listening to the public.

On Thursday, Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said the lower age was supported by the majority of those who had provided input.

Under the new rules, youths between the ages of 12 and 15 will be able to hunt for small game and varmints while accompanied by an adult.

The youths must complete a firearm safety and hunter education course or bowhunter education course before they can get a licence.

The lowered minimum age aligns with federal legislation that allows 12-year-olds to obtain a minor's firearm possession permit, said Northrup.

It also brings New Brunswick in line with most other provinces that already have a minimum hunting age of 12 or younger, he said.

Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta allow youths over the age of 12 to hunt small game when accompanied by an adult.

In British Columbia, the legal age to hunt with an adult is 10-years-old, while in Newfoundland and Labrador, a person must be at least 16 to obtain a permit.

The New Brunswick Wildlife Federation had requested the lowered age in an effort to attract young people to hunting, the minister said.

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2012 Hunt & Trap