September 16, 2010
One cannot be a non-disabled hunter and understand what it’s like. When the article on disabled hunting was written (The thorny issue of disabled hunting,”
Townsman/Bulletin, Sept. 7)the writer ought to have talked to a disabled hunter to present both sides of the story and to prevent the release of incorrect
F.J. Hurtak seems preoccupied about the disabled ruining the wilderness experience of the non-disabled hunter. Is it okay for the non-disabled hunter to
ruin the wilderness experience of the disabled hunter, but not the reverse?
I have read the Wildlife Act and the Hunting and Trapping Regulations and I do not recall seeing anywhere where it said hunting is reserved for the non-disabled.
I’ve also read decisions made by the Environmental Appeal Board, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Supreme Court of Canada and all confirm the rights of the disabled to have special considerations unless it is demonstrated there is “undue hardship”.
F.J. says non-disabled hunters have the right to file a complaint that disabled hunters can drive some closed roads, but they cannot.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged
individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical
As a disabled hunter I have had non-disabled hunters walk past me as if I were not there. They do not know I am disabled because I am not in a wheelchair and that is the psyche of the non-disabled. No wheelchair, no disability. When another hunter walks right past me and cuts me off from the only place I can hunt that morning or evening, I can not go elsewhere as the pain in my feet makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to sleep at night.
The non-disabled hunter has the good fortune to be able to hike better than I can and they walk by me and shoot an animal that I might have had the opportunity to get.
It’s no different when F.J. says in his column that the disabled hunter drives by the non-disabled hunter and fills his tag. Is it okay for the non-disabled
to scoop the disabled on an animal, but not for the disabled to do the same? There is usually lots of good country for the non-disabled to carry on hunting.
When I have had hunters walk by me I may not have gone far, but I have walked a difficult a journey.
One point F.J. misses on roads closed to hunting is anyone not hunting can drive the road, including fishermen, berry pickers, horse-back riders etc. In
an AMA anyone can enter the closure with a permit from the Ministry. In either case a motor vehicle can drive past F.J. with its headlights on high beam
and scare the game away just as easily as a disabled hunter can. The big difference is if I was hunting and came upon a hunter hiking into an area I would stop and discuss options that allowed both of us to have an enjoyable hunt. This is much different than I’ve been treated by non-disabled hunters when they rushed past me leaving me to go home and wait until the next time.
The unfortunate part of disabled hunting is that it’s a new thing that biologists and non-disabled hunters will have to adjust to. We have as much right
to hunt as anyone else.
Look around and see the things to make life easier for the disabled such as handicapped parking spots, automatic or push button doors, and fishing licences for $1.00. Most people do not bat an eye to bypass the last available parking spot because it is marked handicapped, so why do people begrudge the disabled gathering a few perks that would make hunting easier or improve the odds of hunting success.
F.J. expresses concern about the definition of disabled. This is what is written in the Disabled Hunting Policy and Procedures of the Ministry of Environment;
“One frequently referred to definition states that the concept of physical disability generally indicates a state that is involuntary, has some degree of
permanence, and impairs the person’s ability in some measure to carry out the normal functions of life: Boyce v. New Westminster (City,), 19994 B.C.C.H.R.D No. 33, at para. 50.” (Please note that B.C.C.H.R.D. is now the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal”) this would indicate that a broken leg would not qualify as disabled.
In the 08-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis they give a definition of “hunters with permanent disabilities”, although this year’s regs doesn’t
even mention the word disabled.
FJ talked about disabled hunting on private land, which is fine except it becomes strictly voluntary on the part of the landowner who may not wish to have
quads using the lands because most areas are away from easy access and the disabled need motorized transportation. What would be better would be to establish special seasons for the disabled where they are not competing against non-disabled hunters. This concept was supported by the Head of Fish and Wildlife in Cranbrook as he felt he could manage specific wildlife populations that are strong in numbers.
It’s a strange world when someone worries about the impact of a hundred or so disabled hunters compared to the disruptive impact on 85,000 non-disabled hunters.
FJ has written an article on disabled hunting which brings it out in the open for all to discuss. The one thing that is most important is that the non-disabled work with the disabled to develop ideas for the Ministry to digest. If we can come together on special seasons for the disabled it will ultimately reduce the inconvenience of disabled hunters disrupting the non-disabled hunt and make life a lot simpler for ministry staff as well.