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Press Release

A Happy “Mike Harris” New Year

From Natural Resources Minister, David Ramsay
To Ontario Wildlife Rehabilitators

Toronto, December 27, 2004:  On December 15, 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources posted “Enhanced Wildlife Rehabilitation Program”, EBR Registry Number PB04E6022.  In true “Mike Harris” style, the Minister, David Ramsay tabled the changes 10 days before Christmas, thereby reducing the real comment period to about three weeks. He then titled regressive changes with positive sounding language and circulated a “good news” media release.  In fact, the changes, which make it impossible to humanely care for all wildlife, were met with a great deal of anger by wildlife rehabilitators.

The real story is about the unfair treatment of rehabilitators by the Ministry while paying scant attention to those in the wildlife removal business.  The hypocrisy of the Minister in handling wildlife rehabilitation is demonstrated by the stark differences in its approach to private commercial wildlife removal companies as compared to people using their own resources and public donations to help animals to survive.

Hypocrisy #1:
The Minister is subjecting all wildlife rehabilitators who volunteer their time and financial resources to care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in Ontario to extensive licensing requirements while allowing the commercial wildlife removal companies who make a profit from capturing and relocating wildlife to operate without being licensed.

Hypocrisy #2:
The Minister requires all wildlife rehabilitators to keep onerous records, make them available to the Ministry and meet demanding and inappropriate and sometimes even harmful criteria for the care and release of wildlife whereas commercial wildlife removal companies operate without any such licensing restrictions even though they are capturing and relocating tens of thousands of wild animals every year often without regard for the animal’s health.

Hypocrisy #3:
While the Ministry proposes to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce unworkable regulations on wildlife rehabilitators, it provides virtually no enforcement with respect to the activities of wildlife removal companies.

The Ontario Wildlife Coalition charges that the Minister of Natural Resources and his staff demonstrate a severe and negative bias against wildlife rehabilitation in Ontario.  The Coalition demands that the McGuinty government stop the harassment and build a supportive and collaborative working relationship with Ontario’s rehabilitation community so that they are permitted to help wildlife and the public.

For further information please contact Liz White, Ontario Wildlife Coalition, 416-462-9541 (w), 416-809-4371 (cell), Donna DuBreuil, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre 613-282-3755 (cell) or Barry MacKay, Animal Protection Institute, 905-472-9731 (w)


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