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Press Release

For Immediate Release: September 14th, 2005

Wildlife advocates shoot down Ontario’s nuisance wildlife strategy

Groups shut out from consultations over government’s pro-gun approach

Fawn(Toronto) As the Ontario government begins its first round of consultations for managing human/wildlife conflicts, referred to by the Ministry as “nuisance” wildlife, environmental and animal protection groups, conspicuously excluded from the stakeholder invitation list, held a press conference today at Queens Park slamming the Ministry’s pro-hunting agenda.

“The Ministry has excluded every single organization in Ontario who has challenged its labeling and management of so-called “over-abundant” and “nuisance” species.  The Ministry’s background paper makes no mention of wildlife rehabilitation and conflict resolution hotlines as the most obvious and proven conflict resolution mechanism.  Instead the Ministry has chosen the barrel of a gun or a leghold trap to settle disputes,” says Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada.

Fifteen years ago, the Peterson Government undertook a broad and inclusive public consultation that resulted in a Report “Looking Ahead: A Wild Life Strategy for Ontario”.  Ms White was part of the Ontario Wild Life Working Group who assisted in writing the report.

“Instead of revisiting a progressive wildlife strategy developed 15 years ago, the current Liberal government has chosen to go back to the Dark Ages,” says Earthroots spokeswoman, Melissa Tkachyk. “They have chosen a pro-gun strategy instead of non-lethal approach.”

“The Ministry is attempting to justify broader lethal wildlife control methods such as increased bag limits, extended hunting seasons, and increasing hunting opportunities to include non-game species instead of developing an effective, cost-efficient, humane and ethical solution for human-wildlife conflict resolution,” said Barry MacKay, Canadian representative for the Animal Protection Institute, who also assisted in writing the Wild Life Working Group Report.

“The government’s approach is shocking given the model program for managing human-bear problems,” says Ainslie Willock from Canadians for Bears.  “There is a way to coexist with the wild but it requires human tolerance and understanding and knowledge and use of specifically developed methodologies now available.”

“The government must focus on educating people about the impact they have on wildlife, curbing activities that increase human-wildlife conflicts and providing incentives for non-lethal management.” said Paul Harris, President of the Volunteer Wildlife Custodians.  “None of these are priorities in the government’s current strategy.  In fact the Ministry does not recognize that most people who come in conflict with wildlife want the issue resolved without hurting the animals.  The current strategy does not even provide for a non-lethal option and certainly does not see wildlife rehabilitation as a way to solve such conflicts.”

“Also left out from the strategy is the important role that wildlife rehabilitation centers play in reducing and preventing wildlife conflicts.” said Donna DuBreuil, spokesperson for the Ontario Wildlife Coalition, an organization representing dozens of wildlife rehabilitators and educators in Ontario.  “The sheer number of calls received on wildlife emergency hotlines is evidence that people want to resolve the conflict in a non-lethal manner and will help the animals when given the right information and tips. Hotline services assist and educate thousands of residents across Ontario with their wildlife problems.”

 “This policy essentially declares war on wildlife.  Virtually all wildlife are nuisance animals as defined by the Ministry in its background document.  This creates a situation where captured nuisance wildlife may end up in roadside zoos or even sold to animal brokers in Canada or internationally,” said Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck Canada.  “We need a human-wildlife conflict resolution strategy that prevents and resolves conflict. The former Liberal government got us on the right track more than a decade ago; the current Liberal government has gone off the rails.”

Animal Alliance, Animal Protection Institute, Canadians for Bears, Earthroots, Environment Voters, Ontario Wildlife Coalition, Peaceful Parks Coalition, World Society for the Protection of Animals and Zoocheck Canada are among the groups who have joined forces to oppose the Ministry’s new “nuisance” wildlife conflict strategy.

For information, please contact:

Liz White, Animal Alliance of Canada
Barry MacKay, Animal Protection Institute, (905)-472-9731
Ainslie Willock, Canadians for Bears (416)-922-4554
Melissa Tkachyk (Ta-caw-chic), Earthroots: (416) 599-0152 x12, cell (416) 819-7424
Donna DuBreuil, Ontario Wildlife Coalition, (613)-282-3755
Paul Harris, Volunteer Wildlife Custodians, (519)-232-1110
Julie Woodyer, Zoocheck Canada, (416)-282-3755

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