Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Hunting: The Pros and Cons
Last Thursday, T&T Guardian reported the concerns of local hunters over the recently implemented two-year moratorium on hunting ban.
Chaitram Sonneylall, chairman of the group Confederation of Hunters Association for Conservation (Chatt), said the 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 hunters also 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.
Today, we feature the views of two experts on hunting and the environment who give the arguments for and against the hunting ban.
Against the ban:
Winston Nanan, a member of the Confederation of Hunters Association, says the two-year moratorium on hunting will not solve any problems and may cause certain species to multiply out of control and give rise to other serious problems.
Nanan cited certain states in the USA which were overrun with feral pigs and deer which were responsible for car accidents.
Nanan, who is also the head of Nanan Bird Sanctuary Tours in the Caroni Swamp, said hunters were the eyes and ears for any “irregularities” such as poaching or marijuana cultivation that occurred in forests and reported such incidents to the Forestry Division and the police. He said hunters were also instrumental in search and rescue missions for hikers lost in the forest.
He said Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh lacked the scientific data to substantiate the ban and neither UWI’s Zoological Department nor the Forestry Department possessed the data. Nanan said the figures Singh presented were tabulated from data compiled by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and University of Wisconsin which showed that 140,557 animals—agouti, deer, lappe, quenk, tattoo, water fowl, alligator and other species—hunted over the past three years were all lumped together and didn’t show a depletion in the stock.
Instead, he said, the thousands of animals could be interpreted as an overabundance of animals in the forest that needed to be culled.
He also questioned the logic of the decision to supplement wildlife patrols with personnel from the police service and the Defence Force, given the crime situation.
Nanan asked if the ministry had a separate fund for compensation in the event a police officer got a limb blown off or was killed by a trapgun.
He said Zoological Society president Gupte Lutchmedial’s statement that hunters mistreated their dogs—starving them so they would become vicious and bite when hunting—was inaccurate, because their dogs were tracking dogs and did not bite their prey. Hunters had invested tremendous amounts of money in the upkeep of their highly-prized dogs, he said.
Commercial wildlife farming, which was proposed by the minister, had been attempted in the past, said Nanan, but met with little success.
He said even with a prolific breeding species such as the agouti, the young had to be separated from their parents, who would eat them, but soon after, they died eventually.
For the ban:
Marc de Verteuil, a director of the Papa Bois Conservation group, said his organisation was not opposed to hunting but to unsustainable hunting, and the moratorium was in the best interest of sport hunting.
He said he was very much in support of the ministry’s initiative, but felt without proper enforcement, the moratorium would fail.
De Verteuil, who writes an environmental column for the T&T Guardian, said several wildlife species had become extinct, such as the wild hog, which had disappeared from Tucker Valley in the last five years.
He said the 12,000 hunters had a role in monitoring the forests to report suspicious activity such as trapguns and marijuana fields to the media and police. De Verteuil said his group was against commercially farmed wildlife and imported wild meat being sold to the public because it would be problematic to separate poached and smuggled wild meat from the commercially farmed and imported variety. He did see a role for the farming of wildlife, however, as a means to restocking the natural wildlife populations. Wildlife farming would need subsidies, he said, as it wasn’t economically feasible.
He said once the importation of wild meat was allowed it would make the hunting ban impossible to enforce and conceivably open up the country to zoological diseases, and unethical overhunting practices will be transferred to other countries with their own issues regarding sustainability and enforcement.
Wild meat was already being smuggled into Trinidad from Venezuela, mainly by fishermen, he said, through the coastal areas of Cedros and Moruga, peaking in the Christmas season.
He said the possibility existed that some wildlife species considered for importation could become invasive species and displace the indigenous wildlife, such as the capybara from Venezuela, the world’s largest rodent, which can grow up to 200 pounds.
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