Animal Justice, The Fur-Bearers, and Coyote Watch Canada are suing the Ontario government over its decision to allow a coyote hunting contest to take place throughout the month of February. In a lawsuit filed in Superior Court on Thursday, February 24, the groups say the contest violates provincial hunting laws.
The coyote hunting contest is put on every year by Chesher’s Outdoor Store near Belleville, Ontario. The hunt shop offers thousands of dollars in cash and prizes as a reward for the top five heaviest coyotes who are killed. They are also offering five “hidden weight prizes” awarded to those who kill coyotes with certain weights chosen in advance of the contest, and kept secret until the contest closes.
In addition to being incredibly cruel and irresponsible, the contest appears to be illegal. That’s because Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act says that it’s illegal to hunt for gain, or to pay or receive a bounty—unless a person or company receives a written authorization from the Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry.
There is no sign that written authorizations were granted for the contest, which is why we believe the government is acting unlawfully by allowing this cruel contest to proceed. Concerned citizens, and animal protection and environmental groups have been pushing for years for the contest to stop, and for law enforcement to crack down on the event.
Animal Justice and our partner organizations are now asking the courts to weigh in, as this contest appears to be in direct contravention of the law.
Coyotes are sentient beings and members of the canine family who deserve to be treated with respect. Like dogs, they are smart, playful, and form loving family relationships. But shockingly, there is no limit on the number of coyotes who can be killed in much of Southern Ontario. This complete lack of regard for the protection of coyotes is both incredibly cruel, and also detrimental to the environment, as coyotes are a vital part of our ecosystems. Coyotes also look extremely similar to Algonquin wolves – a threatened species whose ranges overlap with coyotes habitats and areas where coyote hunting is known to occur. For these reasons, Animal Justice is also concerned that the contest poses risks to Algonquin wolves.
No one is above the law, and when governments violate laws designed to protect animals and ecosystems, they must be held to account. Please join us in taking action by calling on the Ontario government to respect wildlife protection laws.
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