To buy any hunting licence this year, you'll need to have a certificate or card that proves you've completed a hunter education course in Manitoba or the equivalent in another jurisdiction.
What does this mean? In short, it means that you'll need to prove that you have some education under your belt before anyone will sell you a hunting licence from now on (there is an exemption, and we'll get to that a little later on).
Manitoba Conservation has implemented the new licence eligibility requirements (as of Jan. 1, 2012) and the Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF) is helping hunters comply.
"Education is paramount to new hunters and for that matter, existing hunters, when it comes to safety, ethics and respect for both the land itself and the landowners," said Reid Woods, president of the MWF. "The province has taken the right approach in requiring every licensed hunter to be in possession of a hunter education certificate in order to purchase a hunting licence."
Recent grads of the Manitoba Hunter Education Course are issued cards that can be used when purchasing a licence. For folks like me who took the old Manitoba Hunter and Firearms Safety Training course back in the 1970s, you'll need to do a little homework. My card is long gone, so I'm in the process of getting a replacement from MWF. The process is simple. Call the Manitoba Wildlife Federation office at 633-4868 in Winnipeg or toll free at 1-877 633-4868.
They will need your name, approximate year the course was taken and where you were living at the time you took the course.
There is a charge for replacement cards: $15 for MWF members and $25 for non-MWF members.
Hunters from outside Manitoba who took a hunter education course in their jurisdiction need to contact Manitoba Conservation about getting a Manitoba Hunter Education Equivalency Card. A hunting colleague recently walked through this process without a glitch.
Now about that exemption. According to Manitoba Conservation, The Hunter Education Regulation says if you lawfully held a hunting licence before Jan. 1, 1975, you are eligible to receive a hunter education certificate without having to take a hunter education course. These hunters need to fill out a Manitoba Hunter Education Declaration Form. Questions include where and when you first started hunting and when you purchased your first hunting licence.
You can find this form on page 55 of the 2011 Hunting Regulation booklet (or call Manitoba Conservation at 945-1893). Hunters will then be issued a Hunter Education Certificate that can be used as proof to purchase a licence.
Non-resident hunters also need to comply with this new regulation. So if you plan on hosting friends from outside Manitoba this year on a hunt, be sure to get the necessary paperwork in order. Once again, hunter safety courses from other jurisdictions are valid. It's important to get the ball rolling to obtain those Manitoba Hunter Education Equivalency cards.
All first-time hunters must complete the Manitoba Hunter Education Course. These courses are offered throughout the province. There is also an online option: http://mwf.mb.ca/resources-for-hunters/hunter-education-information/.
There are going to be unique circumstances and probably many questions as hunters get their ducks in a row. If you're not sure how to comply, simply call Manitoba Conservation or the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. These new rules are here to stay, and as Woods says, "No one can rationally argue against better education."
Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she's not playing outside, traveling or eating. You can reach her with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org