The territorial government’s new hunter education program will be mandatory for some hunters looking to get their licences in the new year.
The test is not required for general hunting licence holders or those with other Indigenous hunting rights, hunters using licenced guides and outfitters, NWT residents who have held a resident hunting licence within the last five years, or NWT residents who have held a hunting licence or completed a similar course in another jurisdiction within the last five years.
Nevertheless, the GNWT recommends that even people who aren’t required to take it should check it out. It’s offered online as well as in-person if a minimum participant count is met.
“Hunter education draws on practices long taught by elders and community knowledge keepers to help train the next generation of responsible hunters,” stated Shane Thompson, minister of Environment and Natural Resources, in announcing the program.
The program’s content ranges from responsibilities and regulations to actual hunting, hunt-planning and survival skills drawn from local knowledge.
The GNWT brought together groups of experts in 2011 and 2014 to determine the content of this program, said Rob Gau, manager of biodiversity conservation for the territory.
“These are all experienced hunters on the land and we had wildlife officers in there as well,” said Gau.
The course also gives basic information on the animals themselves, such as what their lives are like, their life cycles and population cycles.
Three modules – on hunting skills, planning and preparation, and the hunt itself – are closely related, giving an overview of taking a hunt from idea to reality.
“Those modules get into everything from making sure you have the appropriate planning, materials, not getting too excited when you pull the trigger– the basic information required for a hunt,” said Gau.
The GNWT considers the course as providing the minimum level of information and expertise for new hunters, on which they’ll build as they gain experience on the land.
“The course itself is all about respect,” said Gau. “It’s about respect for the wildlife, about respect for environment, respect for people on the land and respect for yourself as you are harvesting wildlife.”
Hunters may also be required to take the course if they are convicted of certain hunting offences. More information is available on the program’s website.