Another year, another coyote killing contest

A year ago I blogged about the The Great Coyote Kill, a coyote-killing contest sponsored by the Osgoode Township Fish Game and Conservation Club in order to eradicate the “infestation” of coyotes in the Osgoode area. I was urged, and urged readers of this blog, to write to Mayor Larry O’Brien asking him to oppose the contest.

Unfortunately neither the City nor the Minister of Natural Resources accepted responsibility for the issue and the contest was allowed to run. They must not have killed enough coyotes during their last contest or over the summer (coyotes may be legally hunted all year round) for this year another “cull” is taking place. And even though it has been brought to the Minister of Natural Resources’ attention that such contests are illegal pursuant to Section 11(1) of the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act, no action is being taken to stop the contests.

Wildlife Ontario and the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre have been active in bringing this issue to the attention of Ottawa city councillors, Ontario’s MPPs, the Minister of Natural Resources, Premier Dalton McGuinty and the local media. Now they are urging the public to write to the Premier and ask him to stop the senseless slaughter. The Wildlife Ontario page provides tips for what to say in your letter, links to the MPPs of Ontario and city councillors of Ottawa, and several informative and thought-provoking links to articles published in various newspapers recently. I have taken points from many of these articles in my own letter to Premier McGuinty.

Here is the letter:

February 9, 2011

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Province of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

I am writing with respect to the deplorable coyote-killing contests being held in the Ottawa region. These contests not only make a mockery of the government’s Provincial Policy Statement regarding the importance of protecting of biodiversity, they violate the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act which states:

Section 11 (1) Except with the authorization of the Minister, a person shall not, (a) hunt for hire, gain or the expectation of gain, (b) hire, 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.

Such contests do not promote the appreciation of nature and wildlife or educate people on how to deal with the inevitable animal-human conflicts which will doubtlessly increase as our cities continue to grow beyond their current boundaries. Coyote culls do not make our outlying communities any safer than they already are; there are only two recorded fatalities in North America from coyote attacks. In fact, many residents of Osgoode (one of the “coyote-infested” areas of Ottawa) have publicly stated they have lived with coyotes for years without a problem and are much more concerned about stray bullets from coyote hunters trespassing on their properties than they are about coyotes.

In addition, coyote culls do not place the responsibility of protecting livestock where it belongs – on the farmers and landowners who raise livestock. Livestock predation can be avoided by using guard animals, proper fencing, sheltering animals during the birthing season and not leaving dead stock on their property. Property owners can avoid attracting coyotes by securing garbage, cleaning up around bird feeders and practicing responsible pet ownership. These are simple precautions which have proven effective in other communities.

Over 150 years of coyote bounty-killings have shown that culls do nothing to resolve conflicts between coyotes and humans. Nature will attempt to replenish the population after a dramatic decrease through compensatory reproduction, a well-documented phenomenon where coyotes produce larger litters. Not only do the coyotes bear more young, the pups have a higher than average survival rate due to the lack of competition. In addition, coyotes from other regions will move into the area and establish territories if food is plentiful. MNR biologist Scott Smithers has publicly acknowledged that coyotes reproduce in greater numbers when they are killed in a bounty, which means bounties are ineffective at reducing populations. Why then does the Ministry allow these culls and contests to continue?

We should promote solutions which encourage people to live in harmony with the wildlife around them rather than to overreact and destroy an entire population of animals. The current model of trying to manage wildlife problems with a ‘single species’ approach rather than an ‘ecosystem’ approach which recognizes that everything in nature is connected is outdated and ineffective. I hope you will step up and stop these horrible slaughters which are illegal and – in the words of one of the Ministry’s own biologists – counterproductive.

Please support sensible solutions rather than senseless slaughter.

Yours very truly,

Gillian Mastromatteo
Kanata, ON

If you, too, oppose this senseless, barbaric slaughter, particularly if you live in Ottawa or eastern Ontario, please consider adding your voice to the protest. The more people who voice their disapproval, the better chance we have of saving these animals who have done nothing but try to survive in an increasingly human-altered landscape.

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