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"Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park"
Public weighs in on new hunting rules More than 2,500 have their say about Kawartha Highlands Posted By LAURA MUELLER , EXAMINER STAFF WRITER
Thousands of people spoke up about a proposed change to a regulation governing hunting in the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park.
The 46-day public consultation period for the regulation ended on Monday. Planning and research manager Barton Feilders from the Ministry of Natural Resources said he received more than 2,500 letters and online comments about the regulation.
He said he anticipated many people would react and respond to the proposal.
"We expected this kind of response on this regulation," Feidlers said. "I'm not surprised."
The proposal outlines the type of hunting that would be allowed in the park. Hunting was allowed in the Kawartha Highlands with few restrictions until 2005 when it officially became a provincial park. For the past three years hunting in the park was temporarily governed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the standard legislation to allow hunting in 148 Ontario provincial parks.
In the case of the Kawartha Highlands park, which covers a wide swath of northern Peterborough County between Apsley and Catchacoma Lake, the ministry drafted a unique regulation to allow a longer hunting season and more species than most parks to maintain the traditional types of hunting that took place in the park. The ministry had agreed to preserve "traditional uses" of the park based on community input.
The proposed regulation would permit the hunting of fur-bearing mammals (except wolves and coyotes), wild turkeys and snapping turtles, which goes beyond what is allowed in provincial parks.
The changes are in line with hunting rules that governed the area when it was part of Wildlife Management Unit 60, before it became a provincial park, Feilders said.
Cottage owners, hunters and other groups have been sparring over the proposed hunting legislation. Some say the hunting concessions go too far and could endanger people using the park and degrade the environment. Others argue the regulation would simply reinstate hunting rights that existed in the area before it became a provincial park.
Feilders said his staff compile and assess the comments, many of which were standard form letters. He said he couldn't categorize the types of responses he has received about the regulation.
"The responses have been mixed," he said.
While most of the form letters expressed a clear opinion in support of the legislation or against it, Feilders said, the individual comments dissected each part of the proposal.
Feilders will identify the nature and frequency of the comments and create a report for Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield.
Cansfield will then come up with a recommendation based on the report and present her recommendation to the cabinet committee, he said.
He couldn't say how long the process would take but added it will probably take several weeks just to process the comments and create the report.