Hunters say faulty tags placing all at risk

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Environment

There were 176,000 big game tags purchased for the province this year, and hunters are wondering if the tags - required for the removal of animal meat from where the animal was taken down - are working properly.

Out on a group hunt the weekend before last, Darrin McGrath said he was caught in a bog in Mahers with a tag that would not close.

Hunters John Keough and Jim McGrath caught their moose last week. They said the tags being provided to hunters do not always work. - Submitted photo

There were 176,000 big game tags purchased for the province this year, and hunters are wondering if the tags - required for the removal of animal meat from where the animal was taken down - are working properly.

Out on a group hunt the weekend before last, Darrin McGrath said he was caught in a bog in Mahers with a tag that would not close.

"My nephew got a bull moose, killed a bull, and we cut it into quarters," he said. "Three of the tags locked. And then when we got to the fourth tag it didn't lock."

McGrath said he "worked at it," not wanting his nephew to lose his hunting licence should they try to move the meat and encounter a conservation officer.

The possible penalty for being caught with moose meat without a tag or with an unsealed tag - first offence - is a $1,000 fine or imprisonment for not less than one month. You can also be prevented from holding a hunting licence for five years and hunters could be required to forfeit their meat, firearms and vehicles.

Conservation officers regularly patrol to check on tags, said John Keough, who was hunting with McGrath.

"They do check. There's no doubt about it," he said. "You wouldn't want to lose your vehicles, your moose, your guns, because of some foolish tag that wouldn't lock."

Fearing the penalties if they were accused of poaching, the group contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and then the local wildlife office for instructions.

"We were told to wire the tag shut," McGrath said.

McGrath said the pair was informed the complaint about the tag that would not close was not the first.

He said he was just after hearing that statement, shooting a moose with another party a few days later, when he encountered more tags that would not close.

"In between those two moose, my brother-in-law Jim Greeley killed a moose and neither of his four tags would lock," McGrath said.

Grant Dicks, the manager of licensing and operations with the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation, said the province purchased tags to cover all of the 27,855 moose licence holders and other big-game hunters for the 2009-2010 hunting season from manufacturer Embree Sales.

"To date, we've received anywhere between 40 and 50 cases (of complaints) where the tags won't close properly," he said, speaking with The Telegram Friday.

The problem tags are not being reported in any specific region, Dicks said, adding it may be a reflection of the way they are distributed.

"We distribute all the tags directly from here in Corner Brook and they're batched based on when people apply for their licence," he said. So if few tags are sent to Deer Lake, the next few might go to St. John's and then the next few to Baie Verte.

"Until the season is complete, we won't have a clear picture of how many tags we're looking at (that will not close)."

The contract for supplying tags is awarded each year by public tender and this was the first year tags were purchased from the manufacturer Embree, he said.

Dicks said the plan now is to monitor and record the reports of problem tags.

"We're going to build a database to see what the problem is, how big the problem is and make the decisions for next year from that."

If hunters have tags that they cannot close, they should report them immediately to their nearest Department of Natural Resources office, he said.

"Given the value of the moose hunt, these things should be tested and tried before they're sent out to hunters," McGrath said.

"Someone deserves a rap on the knuckles for this as far as I'm concerned."

The moose hunting season continues until Dec. 13 or Jan. 3, depending on the area.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Mahers, Corner Brook, Deer Lake St. John's Baie Verte

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    They should use a system like we use in alberta, big game tags are identical to the passes issued at ski hills for skiers. Just cut a hole in the nock of the knee like normal insert the wire, peel off the backing on the tag and fold it over the wire and its permanantly sealed. I've never had a problem with this type of tag.

  • Bern
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    There is some good in most stories, even this one.
    Now at least, more hunters have become aware of a problem with the tags.
    The Wildlife Division should make a public statment advising hunters of the proper procedure to now use.

  • Bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Joe, maybe it's because you're a townie hunter that you don't
    know these things, but if you were comfortable enough to hunt areas where you can't hear traffic going up and down a road, then you would be quick to find out that a cellphone doesn't work in a lot of places.

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Funny that this story went in todays paper we killed our moose yesterday and had one of our tags that wouldn't lock.We could get 3 out of the 4 so we locked them on i guess wildlife need to take a closer look at this system.

  • Sarah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Ms. Moose -
    I'm certain somewhere in the Highway Traffic Act it is stated that not displaying your registration stickers on your vehicle is illegal. Similarly, I'm sure that whatever legislation governs the moose hunting season states that tags must be displayed on the animal and not in one's pocket. What is the point of tags otherwise? Showing the licence should be sufficient if it is acceptable to simply show the tags.
    So, contrary to your statement, for most of us law-abiding people, it is a biggie.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    It is good that people are reporting the problem with their tags but there lies a hug opening for the not so honest. Pouching in this province is a huge concern and now people have a way to take a moose legaly and reuse their tags for however many times they want(until getting checked by wildlife) to take other animals. I believe that this is going to create a huge problem for the honest hunters out there.
    Please be a true hunter and take only what you are legaly aloud to take and keep our hunting tradition alive.
    Be safe, hunt smart, and good luck.

  • Ms Moose
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Sure even if the tag wont close and an officer approaches you ....all you got to do is show him the tag that wont close....duh. Foolishness!
    Just the same if your sticker is in the glove box and not on the plate! No Biggie!

  • Wally
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    El Cheapo Tags from an El Cheapo company. Saves the gov a few pennies, but might cost some hunters 10's of 1,000's of dollars and jail time. The thing is, it's just a fancy metallic version of a cable tie, so how can it not be made to have a 100% success rate ? It had better have a 100% success rate if you think about the consequences involved and the effort and logistics of big game hunting.

    Let me guess where they're actually made...

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    What a foolish story! These guys need to get a life! Sounds like chronic whining to me. One tag wouldn't close - big deal! Call wildlife on your cell.

  • Bayman
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Not that anyone should take a chance with this, but I'm sure if a Warden inspected your kill, and you had the faulty tag that would not lock, everything would be fine. Granted, the tags should work. However do these people really think any sane person would fine someone $1000, send them to jail for a month and/or take everything in their posession (i.e. firearm, truck, atv, etc) just because the tag was faulty? That's just ret@rded. Yes b'y, get charged for poaching because you had the tag, and it didn't work. Talk about being strapped for something to complain and write about.

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    They should use a system like we use in alberta, big game tags are identical to the passes issued at ski hills for skiers. Just cut a hole in the nock of the knee like normal insert the wire, peel off the backing on the tag and fold it over the wire and its permanantly sealed. I've never had a problem with this type of tag.

  • Bern
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    There is some good in most stories, even this one.
    Now at least, more hunters have become aware of a problem with the tags.
    The Wildlife Division should make a public statment advising hunters of the proper procedure to now use.

  • Bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Joe, maybe it's because you're a townie hunter that you don't
    know these things, but if you were comfortable enough to hunt areas where you can't hear traffic going up and down a road, then you would be quick to find out that a cellphone doesn't work in a lot of places.

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Funny that this story went in todays paper we killed our moose yesterday and had one of our tags that wouldn't lock.We could get 3 out of the 4 so we locked them on i guess wildlife need to take a closer look at this system.

  • Sarah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Ms. Moose -
    I'm certain somewhere in the Highway Traffic Act it is stated that not displaying your registration stickers on your vehicle is illegal. Similarly, I'm sure that whatever legislation governs the moose hunting season states that tags must be displayed on the animal and not in one's pocket. What is the point of tags otherwise? Showing the licence should be sufficient if it is acceptable to simply show the tags.
    So, contrary to your statement, for most of us law-abiding people, it is a biggie.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    It is good that people are reporting the problem with their tags but there lies a hug opening for the not so honest. Pouching in this province is a huge concern and now people have a way to take a moose legaly and reuse their tags for however many times they want(until getting checked by wildlife) to take other animals. I believe that this is going to create a huge problem for the honest hunters out there.
    Please be a true hunter and take only what you are legaly aloud to take and keep our hunting tradition alive.
    Be safe, hunt smart, and good luck.

  • Ms Moose
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Sure even if the tag wont close and an officer approaches you ....all you got to do is show him the tag that wont close....duh. Foolishness!
    Just the same if your sticker is in the glove box and not on the plate! No Biggie!

  • Wally
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    El Cheapo Tags from an El Cheapo company. Saves the gov a few pennies, but might cost some hunters 10's of 1,000's of dollars and jail time. The thing is, it's just a fancy metallic version of a cable tie, so how can it not be made to have a 100% success rate ? It had better have a 100% success rate if you think about the consequences involved and the effort and logistics of big game hunting.

    Let me guess where they're actually made...

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    What a foolish story! These guys need to get a life! Sounds like chronic whining to me. One tag wouldn't close - big deal! Call wildlife on your cell.

  • Bayman
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Not that anyone should take a chance with this, but I'm sure if a Warden inspected your kill, and you had the faulty tag that would not lock, everything would be fine. Granted, the tags should work. However do these people really think any sane person would fine someone $1000, send them to jail for a month and/or take everything in their posession (i.e. firearm, truck, atv, etc) just because the tag was faulty? That's just ret@rded. Yes b'y, get charged for poaching because you had the tag, and it didn't work. Talk about being strapped for something to complain and write about.