Ontario animal rights activists sounding the alarm over coyote hunting contest
Several animal rights organizations in Ontario are sounding the alarm as a coyote hunting contest kicks off east of Toronto.
A Belleville, Ontario, outdoors store is hosting a coyote hunting contest with various prizes in multiple categories. Toronto Wildlife Centre, The Fur-Bearers and Coyote Watch Canada are saying that the contest is illegal.
This isn’t the first time Chesher’s Outdoor Store has come under fire for a hunting contest. A similar contest last year caused an outcry among animal rights groups. When Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry got involved, the store had to alter some of the prizes that the Ministry considered bounties.
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“This inhumane ‘event’ continues to be in violation of section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, despite the altered rules. The legislation specifically states ‘a person shall not hunt for hire, gain or expectation of gain’,” a statement posted on Toronto Wildlife Centre’s Facebook page reads.
Chesher’s is offering prizes for the top five largest coyotes killed during the contest. The contest began on February 1 and closes on February 28. Section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act outlines rules regarding hunting for gain.
The hunting for gain rules are: “Except with the authorization of the Minister, a person shall not, (a) hunt for hire, gain or the expectation of gain hire, (b) employ or induce another person to hunt for gain; (c) trap for hire, gain or the expectation of gain; (d) hire, employ or induce another person to trap for gain; or (e) pay or accept a bounty.”
Toronto Wildlife Centre says that the contest not only violates these rules but puts at-risk wolves in harm’s way.
“Not only does this contest threaten the lives of coyotes for no reason, but it further threatens Algonquin wolves, a Species-at-Risk who look almost identical to Eastern coyotes,” the organization said in a Facebook post.
While Algonquin wolves and coyotes are very similar in appearance, Ontario hunters are not allowed to hunt in specific areas where these wolves are known to live. Chesher’s, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters say that Algonquin wolves don’t live in the area where the hunting is taking place.
Because people pay to participate in the competition, and because prizes are only given out for some kills, not all, the Belleville contest appears to play within the regulations.
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources told Daily Hive in an email that coyote hunters are regulated under Ontario law.
“Anyone hunting coyotes is required to have a small game licence, follow the rules and regulations for hunting in Ontario and be aware of local discharge of firearm by-laws. In most of southern Ontario, hunting and trapping of coyotes is open year-round,” the Ministry said in a statement to Daily Hive.
They added that conservation officers are still out patrolling and protecting the province’s natural resources.
“To report a natural resource violation or provide information about an unsolved case, members of the public can call the ministry TIPS line toll-free at 1-877-847-7667 or contact your local ministry office. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS,” a spokesperson said.
They did not answer a request for clarity on the rules and regulations regarding hunting contests or what constitutes a bounty.
Chesher’s said in a Facebook post that they have received threats as a result of their contest and that they don’t receive this type of threat when they host hunting contests for other animals.
“It is quite surprising, as the annual Turkey and Big Buck contests did not draw a single comment from the dark side of the moon,” Chesher’s shared in a different Facebook post.