From Dan Dakin, St. Catharines Standard
Tuesday, January 1, 2013 9:49:11 EST AM:
Short Hills Provincial Park will be closed for the next two weekends because of an Aboriginal-only deer hunt.
In a press release issued Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Natural Resources said the hunt will “allow Aboriginal hunters to safely harvest deer for food.”
The restricted hunt will take place Saturday and Sunday, and again Jan. 12 and 13 from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
The 735-hectare park will be closed during those two weekends with park staff patrolling the perimeter boundary and park trails.
“All sorts of safety protocols are in place and we’re hoping that the fact it’s two weekends in January, the park won’t be as busy as it could normally be,” said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the MNR. “Safety is our priority so that’s why we’re closing the park during the hunt.”
However, even during the winter, the park is popular in Niagara for walking and hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and cycling. Dozens of cars could be seen in the park’s three parking lots off of Pelham, Wiley and Roland roads over the weekend.
The hunt will be conducted by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which is made up of natives from the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas.
“Only the Haudenosaunee will be allowed to hunt on those weekends,” Kowalski said. “It’s about them being able to exercise their treaty rights.”
Only archery equipment will be allowed, so no rifles or shotguns will be used, and the hunters are being asked to stick to the southeast corner of the park, which is more remote and has fewer trails.