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Proposed game reserve, Portland


Historical Perspective

Bird shooting in Jamaica began centuries ago. At its inception, the law pertinent to regulating the sport was adopted from England where the duration of the season ran from August 12 to January 31 of the following year, to coincide with their ‘Grouse Season’. At that time, the majority of the hunters were the ‘landed gentry’, for example, overseers of estates or civil servants. Anyone who could purchase both a gun and ammunition took part in the shooting season.


Today’s Jamaican hunters actually attained their skill while rifle shooting in high schools such as Munro College, Wolmers High School and Jamaica College. This fostered bonds between friends and families and the formation of gun clubs.


There are approximately twelve recognized gun clubs operating in different sections of the island, the oldest of which is the PWD Gun Club, which started in 1937.  Other clubs that followed include the Jamaica, Trelawny, Cornwall and Wanderers Gun Clubs and the Monymusk and Jackson Bay Gun, Rod and Tiller Clubs. The majority of the clubs now own or lease their shooting grounds, which are located in the parishes of St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Trelawny and St. Thomas. Over the years, the gun clubs have worked very closely with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and have utilised national laws along with their own club rules, to assist with enforcement of shooting season regulations which are made under the Wild Life Protection Act WLPA).

The WLPA, enacted in 1945, and its regulations replaced the colonial laws which governed bird shooting.  In 1974, the season was declared closed and this lasted for eight years. During this period the bird population increased, but by 1990 it became evident that the population was diminishing. This resulted in a comprehensive review of all regulations governing bird shooting under the WLPA by the responsible Ministry. The duration of the season, bag limits, declaration of Game Sanctuaries and Game Reserves and shooting times were reviewed, and where necessary, the regulations were amended. Text Box: 1

The duration of the season was reduced to six weeks, starting on the third weekend in August and ending on the third weekend in September of each year. Hunting was restricted to Saturday mornings and afternoons and Sunday mornings only. The shortening of the bird shooting season has contributed to the increase in the game bird population. Bag limits were reduced from 30 birds per shoot to 20 and then to 15 in 1997.  Since 2000, the bag limit has increased to 20 birds per shoot, with a maximum of 15 Bald-pate per bag allowed. 

A review of activities over the last five seasons have revealed that the number of violations have declined, when compared to previous years.  This has been attributed to stricter enforcement, public awareness programmes, peer pressure and environmental stewardship by some hunters.