The protests of the Full Throttle Hunting Association of Trinidad and Tobago has reached the international level with group members on Friday night taking banners and charts to several popular locations in New York.
Videos depicting banners of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh were posted on social media among local hunting groups. One banner held by various Times Square characters stated: “Trinidad and Tobago, Terrence Deyalsingh is abusing his powers against hunters! The world is watching.”
According to Vice President of the Full Throttle Hunters Association, Vinod Bedassie, the move was organized by the group’s president, Collin Bissondath and carried out by a fellow hunter who is currently in the US.
Banners, he said, were taken to populated points within the City including the Rockefeller Center and several restaurants and banks in the Manhattan area. The group has also planned to display the banner at points such as the United Nations Plaza and the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in the upcoming days.
Bedassie, who spoke with the Express on Saturday, said that this decision was taken in response to the Government’s unwillingness to open the country’s hunting season which typically begins in October and ends in February.
“We just got really fed-up. We first organised the hunters rally last week but we had no response to that so this was organized. It really is a protest against the lack of a solid response from Minster Deyalsingh and the Minister of Agriculture.”
“When you compare the easing of restrictions in places like cinemas and restaurants, how are hunters going into isolated places to hunt in groups of maybe three of four, how is that comparable? We asked them for some correspondence and in the end they made it out to be a joke. So now, we thought we should bring some attention to it,” he said.
He said that hunters remain unsatisfied with statements made by Deyalsingh at a news conference hosted by the Prime Minister on November 7.
When asked about hunting, Deyalsingh said that hunting would remain prohibited. He joked that hunters were given permission to exercise their dogs. “We did give permission for hunters to exercise their dogs but no hunting,” he said.
According to Bedassie, this response was received as an insult to hundreds of hunters who consider hunting an investment into their livelihoods.
“Hunters spend a lot of money on hounds, ammunition, clothing, items to carry out this activity It is something we look forward to and something that we invest in. These things are simply going to waste and why? The Government refuses to offer any kind of support to us. They refuse to even listen. So that is all we are asking for,” he said.
The Express contacted Minister of Agriculture, Clarence Rambharat for a response to hunters. No immediate response was received.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the reopening of the hunting season for its duration. No extension of the season would be considered, he said today.
This decision he said was made on Friday prior to the “doltishness,” seen on social media.
While he did not specify what he referred to, he said that these efforts would not influence his decisions as Prime Minister.
“I want those who have come this morning on Facebook with all kind of doltishness about the Minister of Health to know our decision has nothing to do with you because as Prime Minister I will not be swayed by any such behaviour. Our decisions are made and serious analysis and the decision to allow hunters to go back out was done on Friday.”
According to Dr Rowley, the Minister of Agriculture will be instructed to carry out hunting registration from Monday of next week. By the following week, he said, hunting should begin.
“We agreed that there was no good reason in the context of what we were doing to not have ourselves exposed through certain activities. There was no good reason to continue to prevent hunters from hunting. We took a decision to allow hunters to hunt again. Not that we are extending the hunting season. It will close as normal. On Monday the Minister of Agriculture will take the necessary steps to have the registration of hunters done normally so that by the end of the next weekend hunters by the end of the next weekend hunters can be allowed to to hunt. I will instruct the Minster on Monday and it will take a few days for the permits to be issued,” he said.
Speaking to the Express after the announcement, Bedassie said that hunters were grateful for the decision.