Three Canadian animal protection organisations, Animal Justice, The Fur-Bearers and Coyote Watch Canada, are suing the Ontario government for allowing an annual coyote hunting contest hosted by an outdoor store in Belleville, Canada. These groups claim the contest is essentially a bounty and should be illegal because it has not been authorized by the province.
Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, said to Global News “The government knows what the laws are and they’re just choosing to ignore them… The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act actually prohibits hunting coyotes or other animals for gain or bounty so on its face this contest is illegal, so that’s why we’re suing the Ontario government for allowing it to proceed.”
Lesley Sampson, Executive Director of Coyote Watch Canada, said “As a keystone species, the Eastern coyote is under the unabated threat of open season persecution in most of Ontario… Killing contests flout sound science and ethical management, and disregard section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Wildlife is held in public trust for all Ontarians and must not be targeted for cash prizes and incentivized killing for fun and gain.”
Michael Howie, a spokesperson for The Fur-Bearers, said“Over 8,000 submissions calling for enforcement were sent to the Ministry following this issue becoming public…These concerned members of the public—and the media—deserve transparency and explanations from their government.”
For at least ten years, Chesher’s outdoor store in Bellevillehas been interesting hunters to pay an entry fee, hunt coyotesin February, and bring them to the store to be weighed to see if they’re eligible for a cash prize at the end of the season. In Ontario, coyotes can be hunted all year-round with a valid hunting licence, so they are constantly under threat.
The court application filed on 24th February 2022 in the Superior Court by the three organisations claims the province’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act makes it an offence to award prizes for hunting games without the written approval of the Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry. While the 2022 coyote hunting contest is now over, it is hoped that the court hearings will take place in the coming months to stop contests like this one from happening again in the future.