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Cottage country crackdown: MNRF stages enforcement blitz near Norland in City of Kawartha Lakes

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today

NORLAND - People were giving the thumbs up to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry this week.

MNRF enforcement held a blitz for 36 hours starting Sunday after 4 p.m. on Highway 35 just north of Norland in the City of Kawartha Lakes and wrapping up at approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Conservation Officer Jay Downey said the road check focused primarily on moose hunters travelling back from their hunting camps in the Minden and Bancroft areas.

They were also checking on anglers.

Officers were looking for various infractions, including a lack of proper tags, licences, limit, storage of firearms and more.

From the start, conservation officers received a positive response from the public, with at least one person giving the thumbs up as they went through, Downey said. "For the most part 95% of the people and we're getting a lot of positive feedback."

Downey said a lot of people will see the MNRF and know they are around which is a good thing for the people who try to cheat the system.

A number of people also stopped by the checkpoint to give information to officers about suspicious activity.

Alfred Vanderwall from Newmarket was at his cottage just on the other side of the road watching conservation officers check vehicles.

"I think it's a good thing," he said. "It's something that has to be done and it has to be controlled.  People have to know you can't get away with illegal hunting or fishing."

Over the course of the first evening a number of tickets and charges were handed out for illegal storage of a firearm and crossbow and one person was charged with impaired driving, was arrested and had his vehicle towed from the scene after an OPP officer joined in checking vehicles.

Numerous drivers throughout the evening failed to stop even though officers were holding a stop sign, were wearing reflective gear and had two vehicles with emergency lights activated.

One woman said her dog distracted her, while along slammed on the brakes and skidded right past the officers.

Charles Mclean was on his way back from hunt camp in Haliburton where he was for the weekend and had no problem with the blitz.

"It's a good idea and keeps everybody honest," said Mclean.

"That way our natural resources aren't being taken by people that shouldn't be. I think it's a great idea."

Mclean said it was very well-organized with people who were being checked advised to enter the parking lot at the Ward Memorial Park.

There was no waiting, so there are no issues because people want to get home from the weekend. "It's not like you have to sit for hours to get through a checkpoint," Mclean said. "You pull in, there is no waiting. If this had happened years ago we probably would have had a lot more fish and game to hunt. It keeps everybody honest."