ROB HOULE and DON FRASER
As another native deer hunt is set to begin in Short Hills Provincial Park, an abutting landowner says nothing has been done to calm her public safety fears.
However, police and government authorities say public safety will be top of mind in this weekend’s hunt, with strict safety protocols in place.
“There is nothing that is reassuring me, whatsoever, that this hunt is safe,” Roland Rd. resident Robin Zavitz said Tuesday.
Zavitz and other members of the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance have been vocal in their opposition to the native deer hunt since it was first allowed under treaty rights in 2013.
Those treaty rights allow Haudenosaunee aboriginal hunters into the park, which is closed off to others during hunts, to kill deer with bows and arrows. A first hunt in the park took place over four days in January 2013 and a second was held for eight days in November 2013. Hunts are planned over the next three weekends beginning Saturday.
While Zavitz acknowledged she is morally against the hunt, she said her greater concern is for public safety.
“Clearly when I started this back in December 2012, when I first learned of (the planned hunt), immediately it was, are you kidding me, you’re going to kill wildlife in a provincial park, this is nuts,” she said. “They are protected and they should remain that way. As soon as the first hunt happened, it quickly turned into a wow, we’ve got a huge public safety issue here. It only took two days of one hunt and it was obvious this is not a safe place to do it.”
Paul Williams, a member of the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority, said native hunters will wear orange outerwear for added safety.
He said there will also be a buffer zone of 150-metres from the edge of the park, where hunters do not cross.
Meanwhile, Zavitz sought and received the support of Niagara Region politicians, who wrote letters to the premier and minister of natural resources asking that they put an end to hunting in the park.