HATT spokesmen Anson Webster, left, and Simon De Freitas.

Shastri Boodan

Hunters are pleading with the government to open the hunting season. Scores of disgruntled hunters gathered at the car park of the Caroni Bird Sanctuary on Wednesday with their empty hound dog cages and called on the relevant authorities to give in to their demands.

Simon De Freitas, the spokesman for the Hunters Association of T&T (HATT), said: “We are here to plead with Terrence Deyalsingh, the Minister of Health, to please open the hunting season. They have opened hiking, they have opened the gyms.

“We are begging him to consider all hunters. There are approximately 12,000 registered hunters. We do not think that hunting would spread COVID at all. Most hunting packs are six to eight guys. We are willing to abide by all COVID rules. We are asking him to please consider us.”

De Freitas said the HATT has been writing letters but are not getting anywhere. He said only the Minister of Health can give the go-ahead to the Ministry of Agriculture for the sale of hunting permits.

He said the hunters walked with their empty dog cages as a sign of protest since the hounds have to be kept at homes. Hunting dogs are an expensive investment and need regular exercise in the forest, he said.

“The hounds are just locked up and we are locked up. Hunting is not only about killing, you don’t always catch,” he said

De Freitas believes the authorities are unclear about the hunting process and he appealed to them to take hunters seriously.

Anson Webster, a spokesman for hunters in Tobago, said the increase in wildlife on the island is affecting farmers. Ameer Hosein, who has been hunting for the last 30 years, said it costs him $200 a day to maintain his ten hunting dogs and without the proper exercise the dogs are getting irritated.