By Marlene Bergsma, The Standard (St. Catherines)
ST. CATHARINES - Animal rights advocates and deer hunt protesters say there is no sign that hunters were in Short Hills Provincial Park on Sunday.
On Saturday, about 30 First Nations hunters were in the park and two deer were “harvested,” said Ontario Parks spokesman John Salo on Saturday.
But Roland Rd. resident Robin Zavitz, who said she was at the Pelham Rd. entrance from 5:30 a.m. Sunday said there was no evidence of hunters on the final day of the eight-day hunt.
“I think the ministry (of natural resources) was on damage control,” she said, “picking up wounded deer.”
Zavitz said she could hear gunshots in the park through the morning Sunday. “I think they were chasing wounded deer.”
She said one of the members of Short Hills Wildlife Alliance went through the park after it was opened to the public, around noon.
She said the person saw a lot of blood, adding she also found some blood on her own property, which abuts the park.
She said coyotes are also now more active in the park.
A call to a ministry spokesman Sunday was not returned.
On Saturday, the hunters started going into the park around 5:30 a.m. and entered from the Pelham Rd. side, Salo said. A few protesters also spent the day at the entrance to the park.
The Saturday hunt brought the total to five deer this weekend, in addition to the 19 killed over four days last weekend.
Entrances to Short Hills Provincial Park were barricaded during the two weekends of the hunt conducted by the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority under the terms of a 1701 treaty.
The Albany Deed, between the British and the Haudenosaunee, gives the First Nations hunters the right to hunt on their traditional grounds, including Short Hills.
Hunters from the Haudenosaunee nation conducted the bows-only hunt of white-tailed deer over two weekends, from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.
Salo said all the hunters were registered in advance.
“We don’t ask for a status card when they go in because they are all pre-registered,” he said.
He said similar hunts take place across Ontario, at Pinery Provincial Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Navy Island and Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Salo said those hunts do not typically attract protesters.
Zavitz said she will continue to push to have the hunt cancelled.
“We are talking about a public safety issue here,” she said. “I hope we get some public outcry.”