June 23, 2003
An Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario
Dear Premier Eves
On April 28, 2003, you made a public commitment on CFRA radio to “expeditiously” review the planned release of wildlife seized by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in a controversial raid on the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre in September 2002.
We have since learned that, in spite of your commitment, these animals were released and, what is particularly alarming, that they were released into an area where there are active cases of raccoon rabies. You will understand the real concern of this community in light of the following:
We are writing to ask you, Mr. Premier, why would animals taken from Ottawa where there has never been a case of raccoon rabies be released into an area where there are current cases of rabies? These animals were seized at great public expense and kept in the most inhumane manner for many months only to be released in another county a hundred or more kilometers away from where they came and in violation of the Ministry’s own one-kilometer release restriction.
We believe the animals were taken and are being used for research purposes. We base our belief on documents received through a Freedom of Information request - a copy of a proposal in which the MNR is the key partner in a project funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. One activity identified within the research schedule indicates “this will involve using control samples that have been seeded with known amount of viral RNA to assess limits of detection of this approach compared with the standard antibody approach”. The start date for the control study was May 1, 2003 which is strongly indicative of the reason for the Ministry’s inflexible and determined efforts to have the animals “released” by that date.
Mr. Premier, we are asking you to fulfill your promise made on CFRA and release the results of that review? The staff and volunteers with the OCWC and so many members of the public who are following this issue deserve to know what really happened to the raccoons seized by your Minister, Jerry Ouellette.
We are also concerned with the fate of a young fox taken by the Ministry. We have requested, through our local MPPs, that the fox be returned for rehabilitation and release. The MNR plan to place this fox in a zoo is unconscionable and has drawn considerable protest from the community. The fox has been in solitary confinement now for eleven months – a cruel and senseless punishment for any wild animal. We understand that both the Hon. Norm Sterling and John Baird have requested that the fox be returned and we ask that you expedite that request.
For the past eight months, the MNR has consistently stated that these animals were and would not be used for research. However, given all of the evidence to the contrary, the onus of proof as to the whereabouts and the use of these animals must now be on the MNR. The Ministry and your government will continue to be the target of strong public criticism until such evidence is produced through an Inquiry into this affair.
We look forward to your response.
Kim Elmslie, Emergency Relief Representative Liz White, Director
International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Alliance of Canada
(613) 241-8996 (416) 462-9541
Donna DuBreuil, President
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre