Deryck Kallicharan, left, and Rakesh Samlal post placards on their vehicle during a protest by hunters to open the hunting season yesterday.

Hunters are pleading with the Government to open the hunting season.

Scores of disgruntled hunters gathered at the carpark 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, 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 gym, 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 6-8 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 were not getting anywhere. He said only the Minister of Health can give the okay for the go-ahead to the Ministry of Agriculture for the sale of permits.

De Freitas said the hunters walked with their empty dog cages as a sign of protest since the hounds have to be kept at homes.

De Freitas said hunting dogs are an expensive investment and need regular exercise in the forest.

He said hunting is about exercise and developing a spirit of camaraderie.

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

He said the authorities are unclear of the hunting process and need to take hunters seriously.

Anson Webster, the spokesman for hunters in Tobago, said the growth of wildlife in Tobago is affecting farmers in Tobago.

He explained the hunters help to balance the wildlife population and ensure some animals don’t trespass onto the farms or agricultural properties.

Ameer Hosein, who has been hunting for the last 30 years, said it costs him $200 a day to maintain his 10 hunting dogs.

He said without the proper exercise the dogs are getting irritated. Hunters also posted placards on their vehicles calling on the government to give them some leeway.

When contacted on the hunters’ protest and concerns, Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat said that is a decision of the Ministries of Health and National Security regarding the prohibition of hunting.