TORONTO—Animal Justice and Coyote Watch Canada have filed an application for investigation under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (“EBR”)— a cornerstone statute that gives Ontarians a right to request an investigation when an environmental law is violated. In the application, the groups are requesting that the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry investigate an illegal coyote hunting contest held by a Belleville, Ontario hunting store. Today, Chesher’s Outdoor Store is expected to award thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to participants who killed and entered the largest coyotes throughout the month of February – a move the groups say violates Ontario’s law against paying or accepting a bounty.
“Each year, this Store holds a cruel coyote hunting contest that seems blatantly unlawful,” said lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell, Director of Legal Advocacy with Animal Justice. “Enough is enough. Thousands of Ontarians have urged the Minister to investigate this contest and uphold the requirements of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, but he has continually turned his back on his duties. By filing this application for investigation under the EBR we hope the Minister is compelled to finally take action to uphold the law and hold the Store to account.”
Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act states that no person shall hunt “for gain or the expectation of gain”, “induce another person to hunt for gain”, or “pay or accept a bounty.” To engage in any of these activities, an individual or company needs a written authorization from the Minister. Ministry officials have confirmed that no written authorizations were issued for the Chesher’s contest.
In contest rules posted on the Store’s Facebook page, Chesher’s announced it would award approximately $2,500 in cash and merchandise prizes through the contest. This appears to be a direct violation of the Act.
“Eastern coyotes face the sustained, year-round threat of unlimited open season hunting in most of Southern Ontario,” said Lesley Sampson, Executive Director of Coyote Watch Canada. “Coyotes are a keystone species that deserves respect and compassion. Killing contests like this one not only disregard the clear wording of section 11 of the Act, but flout sound science and ethical management. The contest encourages participants to kill coyotes for fun and gain – the more animals a participant kills, the greater their chances of winning cash and prizes.”
In 2022, Animal Justice, The Fur-Bearers, and Coyote Watch Canada sued the Ontario government over its decision to allow the Chesher’s coyote hunting contest to take place throughout February, 2022. A copy of the lawsuit is available here. The groups are awaiting the Court’s decision in that lawsuit.
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A copy of the application for investigation is available here.
Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push to hold industries accountable for abusing animals, and fight for animals in court. Visit www.animaljustice.ca to learn more.