Weighing in on the roadside hunting debate

Much of the recent debate regarding roadside hunting seems to revolve around it being "unsporting." To me, hunting is not a sport. It provides meat eaters with an opportunity to consume animals that have lived

Much of the recent debate regarding roadside hunting seems to revolve around it being “unsporting.” To me, hunting is not a sport. It provides meat eaters with an opportunity to consume animals that have lived freer, healthier lives than the majority of those we raise for food, while engaging in the reality of where meat comes from that so many among us choose to ignore. Regardless of the use of roadways, technology gives us an unfair advantage, and we owe it to the animals we hunt to regard them as more than “game.”

For me, safety would be the most pressing reason to alter the hunting corridor regulations, if it was, in fact, a serious concern with roadside hunting. I see it as entirely the responsibility of the hunter to be completely familiar with the road being hunted from and any private property, nearby trails, bends in the road, etc., that might create dangerous situations. So far this does not seem to be the focus of the discussion.

The Carcross grizzly that was killed this spring was the catalyst for this debate, and, as many of the opponents of road hunting seem particularly concerned about bear hunting, perhaps that is the issue at the heart of the matter. Maybe a better campaign for those wishing to deter hunters interested in killing, but not eating, bears would be a law against the wastage of their meat, as applies to most other big game species.

As Katie O’Farrell mentions in a recent News article, a ban on hunting from roadsides would likely lead to an increase of motorized traffic in the backcountry, an issue unto itself due to environmental impacts. Also, the fact that a ban could affect people more who are physically or economically disadvantaged is worth considering.

Although wildlife on our roadways is a big part of the draw for highway tourists, collisions between vehicles and wildlife are a concern, and usually, I suspect, a less pleasant fate for an animal than being shot. The Aishihik bison are a good example of roadside hunting being used to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions.

I understand that it can be unsettling or saddening to witness an animal’s life being taken, especially for visitors to the territory from places where it is less common. It is an emotional experience that most of us are totally disconnected from in our modern world, where food comes from the grocery store and does not have to be killed or grown. However, I feel that it is wrong to hide an integral aspect of Yukon culture for the sake of our visitors, who are, after all, here seeking authenticity.

Will Hegsted

Whitehorse