Last update: 06-Dec-2013 8:12 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Hunting ban has ‘negative effects’
Hunters fear that the Government’s decision to ban hunting will have a significant impact on GDP and negatively affect the $96 million revenue earned from the sport hunting industry.
Hunters also expressed their concern that instead of the moratorium on hunting resulting in an increase in the animal population, there may be a proliferation of poaching, marijuana fields protected by deadly booby traps, trapgun injuries and deaths.
Chaitram Sonneylall, chairman of the group Confederation of Hunters Association for Conservation (Chatt), said Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh’s proposed two-year ban on hunting will have a domino effect on stakeholders such as pet shops, veterinarians, firearms dealers, hardware stores, rural groceries, mini-marts, parlours and most importantly villagers. The moratorium took effect on October 1.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian last week, Sonneylall said: “Hunting generates $96 million for the country and a lot of people stand to lose a lot of money if there is a ban on the hunting season.
“Many businesses have already stocked up on hunting merchandise that will not be sold and a lot of people have already spent their money on hunting equipment and supplies.
“This basically benefits the rural communities’ mom-and-pop parlours and shops that sell hunting supplies and the State also, because of the fuel for our vehicles and the VAT and taxes we pay on certain items.
“We spend millions of dollars every year alone in veterinarian fees, high-quality dog chow, meat and supplements for our dogs which can cost from $6,000 to $20,000 for a pedigree pup.”
Displaying newpaper headlines about million-dollar marijuana hauls and trap gun fatalities from the same time period as the last moratorium, Sonneylall said the two-year ban will not work without enforcement, as the last hunting moratorium, imposed in 1987-89, only resulted in large sections of the forests in Biche, Charuma, Cumaca, Ecclesville and Moruga being overtaken by marijuana cultivators and poachers, and increased incidents of injuries and deaths from trapguns.
He said 14 game wardens were incapable of enforcing the moratorium.
Sonneylall said the Zoological Society’s plan to import wildlife stock for breeding purposes from Guyana had inherent dangers: exotic alien pests and zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, such as Chagas disease and foot and mouth diseases, common in South America, which had the potential to wipe out local wildlife as well as domestic stock if they were introduced into the country without proper screening.
Sonneylall reiterated that if any survey showed a depletion in wildlife he would support the ministry's efforts, but not the way it was being done.
He said hunters were part of the ecosystem to create a balance as they had a vested interest in the sport and did not go to hunt animals to extinction, unlike poachers who engaged in commercial hunting.
Sonneylall said another benefit to be derived from hunting was that it kept hunters fit and healthy with very few ending up in hospital with diabetes or chronic diseases as they spent their time exercising outdoors while enjoying their sport.
He said Singh based his decision on the hunting ban on data from UWI and University of Wisconsin that was more than 20 years old, from 1990 to 1993, and which was not applicable to present circumstances.
Sonneylall said the duplication of the hunters’ catch figures had to be remedied, giving the example of five hunters catching a total of four agouti: each hunter will fill out in his mandatory data form return that he caught four agouti.
He said the amount of catch reported remained stable, which was a good indication that there was no decline in the wildlife population.
Sonneylall asked whether there was an ulterior motive for the moratorium and who will benefit from the importation and sale of wild meat. He said his group strongly advised transparency and enforcement of the law for the moratorium to be effective and called for wild meat to be sold for the next two years.
A firearms dealer from the South said he would lose sales of hunting shotguns and ammunition but he understood the point of view of conservationists that the wildlife population needed to be replenished.
Tomorrow: Two experts outline the pros and cons of the hunting ban
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