A hunt shop near Belleville, Ontario is expected to pay out thousands of dollars in cash and prizes today to participants who killed and entered the largest coyotes in a hunting contest. Coyote hunting contests are cruel and irresponsible. It’s also illegal in Ontario to hunt for gain or to pay or accept a bounty—unless a person or company receives a written authorization from the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, which did not take place in this case.
Thousands of Ontarians have already urged the Minister to investigate the Chesher’s Outdoor Store contest and uphold the requirements of Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, but he has continually turned his back on his duties.
Today, Animal Justice and Coyote Watch Canada have filed an application for investigation under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights—a cornerstone statute that gives Ontarians a right to request an investigation when an environmental law is violated. In the application, we’re requesting that the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry finally investigate the hunting contest.
Animal Justice, Coyote Watch Canada, and The Fur-Bearers are already suing the province, and asking the courts to ensure the government respects the law. On December 14, 2022, we attended the Ontario Divisional Court to explain why the Minister acted unlawfully by allowing the 2022 contest to take place absent written authorizations as required under the Act. While we wait for the judges’ decision, the 2023 contest still went ahead.
Coyotes are a keystone species and are a vital part of ecosystems throughout Canada. They are highly intelligent canids who care for their families in organized social structures. The coyote hunting contest also poses a risk to Algonquin wolves – a threatened species of wolf who are nearly identical in appearance to coyotes. Algonquin wolf habitat includes areas in which coyotes are commonly hunted.
The government has historically failed to address illegal hunting contests. Concerned citizens and animal protection and environmental groups have been pushing for years for these killing contests to stop, and for officials to crack down on them. No one should be above the law! Please join us by sending a message to the Minister today, calling for the government to take action on illegal hunting contests.