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Coalition formed to level wildlife playing field in Ontario

Toronto, June 7, 2004:  Frustrated by the Ontario government’s inability to modernize the Ministry of Natural Resources, more than 75 wildlife rehabilitation groups and, environmental and animal welfare organizations have joined forces as the Ontario Wildlife Coalition to ensure a more representative voice on wildlife issues at Queen’s Park.

“As it stands now, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources largely reflects the interests of hunters, trappers, sport and commercial fishers and other consumptive users of wildlife.  It is unacceptable that a government department focuses on a ‘clientele’  whose primary interests are access to the province’s public resources for sport and profit.”  said Liz White, spokesperson for the Ontario Wildlife Coalition.

“This explains why the policies of the MNR, as they pertain to ecosystem management and conservation ethics, have diverged from the views and values of the majority of environmental and animal welfare groups and the public at large. The Ministry’s limited understanding of who its clients are, ignores the majority of Ontario residents who contribute heavily to the economy through activities such as hiking, camping, photography and bird watching.” said Barry MacKay a noted naturalist and the Canadian Representative of Animal Protection Institute, a member of the Coalition.  “Ministry decisions are too often damaging to wildlife and the environment.”

“It also ignores the reality that the majority of Ontario residents now live in urban areas, enjoying wildlife within neighbourhood green spaces, while recognizing that development has a significant negative impact on wildlife that requires mitigation.” said Donna DuBreuil, President, Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre, also a member of the Coalition.  “A clear example of the public’s commitment to ensuring a broader and more representative voice with respect to wildlife issues was recently demonstrated by the over 9,000 individuals who petitioned the Ontario Legislative Assembly for changes to MNR regulations that currently prohibit humane or responsible wildlife rehabilitation in Ontario.”

“The Liberal government has made a commitment to a full and complete review of MNR regulations in relation to wildlife rehabilitation and to develop a new and improved working relationship between government and community volunteers.”  DuBreuil continued.  “The Ontario Wildlife Coalition has been formed to bring stakeholders together and to help facilitate these discussions.”

The Coalition represents a first in uniting a diverse range of grassroots environmental and animal welfare organizations. It includes environmental educators and community advisors, research scientists, lawyers, journalists, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators and animal protection organizations. Its mandate is to advocate on behalf of wildlife in Ontario and to seek long-term and progressive solutions for human/wildlife conflicts through remedial action, public education and awareness and habitat protection.

For further information please contact Donna DuBreuil, 613-282-3755, Liz White,
416-462-9541(w) or 416-809-4371(cell)  and Barry MacKay, 905-472-9731(w).


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