Night hunting is an incredibly dangerous practice involving high-powered rifles capable of killing over a distance measured in miles. People have been killed as a result of this reckless activity, and livestock have been slaughtered. It is also responsible for an alarming decline in the province’s moose population. It should not be allowed under any circumstances.
The provincial government has been under considerable pressure to ban night hunting. Instead, they have decided to take the easy way out, and limit it instead.
The obvious question is why a responsible government would not immediately issue a total ban on something that is so explicitly dangerous, as well as totally unnecessary. The related question is why any responsible Indigenous leaders would insist on a practice that has already claimed the lives of Indigenous people, and will certainly claim more lives unless it is totally banned.
The reason, of course, is that certain Indigenous groups insist that night hunting is a constitutional right, based on ancient traditions. Incredibly, they have some case law to support them.
The ancient traditions they refer to bear very little resemblance to the night hunting of today. Arrows and spears capable of killing at a short distance were very different from today’s lethal weapons. A bullet from a modern hunting rifle can travel more than four miles, but the beam of light from a spotlight only reaches about 200 yards. This means that a hunter is literally shooting in the dark. Indigenous hunters of old would not have been that foolish. The night hunting of today and the ancient Indigenous tradition are two different things. The court decisions that seem to say otherwise are clearly wrong, and should be challenged.
Why is the provincial government not doing so? They know – just as every responsible citizen does – that modern night hunting is a clear danger, and should be totally banned. They have previously said as much. As leaders, why are they not leading? Is the government intimidated by the prospect of taking issue with a so-called “constitutional right”?
They shouldn’t be. The fact that a court pronounces something a constitutional right at some point in time does not mean that it should forever more be treated as if Moses brought it down with him from the mountain. One dramatic example of a “constitutional right” that was clearly wrong can be found to our south. Slavery survived constitutional challenges for two hundred years. And even when a war ended slavery, a pig-headed Supreme Court kept “separate but equal” laws. So, something that is protected by the courts as a “constitutional right” doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes sense. Where it doesn’t make sense, it should be challenged.
The provincial government should do what it said it would do, and issue a total ban on night hunting. Indigenous leaders should do the right thing, and support the ban. If they fail to do so, lives will be lost. Any challenge to the ban should be met with a firm resolve to protect all of its citizens, by persuading the courts to change a bad law.
When the law is an ass, it should be challenged.