Former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner speaks out against the McGuinty/Jeffrey attack on Ontario’s coyotes

March 21, 2011: A former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, Roslyn Cassells has written Premier McGuinty seeking an immediate halt to the illegal killing of coyotes in Ontario.

She states that bounties and culling programmes are politically driven killings.“They do not work,” she states.“Like many other species, coyotes exhibit a rebound reproductive effect when their population experiences a sudden decline. When the coyotes are killed in a specific area, the surrounding coyotes will produce more young to occupy the habitat now available. For this reason, bounties, trapping, poisoning, and other killing campaigns are not only ineffective in reducing coyote populations, they actually increase them. Where the habitat exists, so will the coyotes. Whether you love them or hate them the only solution is coexistence.”

And Ms. Cassells has had very real success with coyote coexistence programmes. She states, “When I served as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner we implemented a Coexisting with Coyotes Project through the Stanley Park Ecology Society specifically to deal with human and animal conflicts involving coyotes. The board, a corporate sponsor, Vancouver city council, and the provincial government together funded the Coexisting with Coyotes Project. The program resulted in a near complete reduction in conflicts within a few years of operation. A researcher and biologist developed the program which included multilingual information packages and cultural outreach, teachers' kits, posters, media strategy, mainstream community outreach, an information website, and a coyote information line.”

“We have always known that the key to an effective non-lethal coyote management programs includes education, appropriate exclusion methods, reduction of attractants, use of hazing techniques for habituated animals, and a strong community outreach component involving the media and community groups,” said Donna DuBreuil, spokesperson for the Ontario Wildlife Coalition.

“We have to learn to live in harmony with other species and protect our biodiversity,” DuBreuil continued.“Premier McGuinty must respect our communities' values towards coexisting with wildlife using education and non-lethal conflict prevention measures as tools to prevent the senseless deaths of wildlife.”

Take Action!Roslyn Cassell - roslyncassells@yahoo.ca
Donna DuBreuil – 613-726-8178
 


March 20, 2011

Dear Premier McGuinty,

I want to share the experience and success we had with respect to coyote concerns when I served as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner. I urge you to act immediately to halt the publicly reviled illegal killing of coyotes in Ontario, and to order wildlife officers to enforce Section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act which bans bounties, prizes, or any other gain from killing wildlife.

To offer a prize to a child or an adult for the destruction of another living creature is surely an all-time low for Ontario, and without doubt your political party. To fail in your duty to ensure enforcement of the applicable provincial law which prohibits this kind of act shows your tacit approval of this abhorrent behaviour, and that of your government. As these barbaric contests have been widely publicized and held for at least the past two years with your full knowledge, and that of the responsible Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey, the public have come to understand your government's complete lack of respect for wildlife and the laws protecting them.

Your lack of responsible leadership on this issue has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent coyotes and their pups, as well as other animals shot by hunters who couldn't tell a dog from a coyote, wolf, or fox. The trapping has put the public and non-target animals at increased risk of injury and death from dangerous traps placed in areas frequented by walkers, children, and their companion animals. Family pets have been killed or maimed in traps. Other non-target wildlife have died in high numbers in traps intended for coyotes.

An analysis of current policies and practises of the McGuinty Liberals clearly illustrate that you and the responsible minister have exacerbated the situation you claim to want to resolve. The current lack of proactive education programs and community outreach, coupled with a complete and deliberate absence of enforcement of the applicable Act has created a disastrous situation for coyotes and Ontario communities, and resulted in the needless slaughter of hundreds of these intelligent creatures.

Negative interactions between humans and coyotes, and coyotes and other animals which humans deem off-limits are also on the rise. These interactions can be brought down considerably or completely by proactive education programs, the implementation of effective exclusion methods, and the hazing of habituated animals.

Like many other species, coyotes exhibit a rebound reproductive effect when their population experiences a sudden decline. When the coyotes are killed in a specific area, the surrounding coyotes will produce more young to occupy the habitat now available. For this reason, bounties, trapping, poisoning, and other killing campaigns are not only ineffective in reducing coyote populations, they actually increase them. Where the habitat exists, so will the coyotes. Whether you love them or hate them the only solution is coexistence.

Other jurisdictions have successfully implemented non-lethal coexistence-based coyote management programs to deal the same kind of issues and concerns. Research and practise has shown, time and time again, that coexistence with coyotes is the only sustainable solution to our mutual survival. Multi-pronged educational programs, appropriate exclusion methods, reduction of attractants, use of hazing techniques for habituated animals, and a strong community outreach component involving the media and the community are essential.

When I served as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner we implemented a Coexisting with Coyotes Project through the Stanley Park Ecology Society specifically to deal with human and animal conflicts involving coyotes. The board, a corporate sponsor, Vancouver city council, and the provincial government together funded the Coexisting with Coyotes Project. The program resulted in a near complete reduction in conflicts within a few years of operation. A researcher and biologist developed the program which included multilingual information packages and cultural outreach, teachers' kits, posters, media strategy, mainstream community outreach, an information website, and a coyote information line. Shortly after its inception the program had reached all school-age children in the lower mainland and beyond, and has been adopted in other jurisdictions in BC, other provinces, and internationally.

The Ontario government should do it's duty to those who put their trust in them, and especially to those who cannot speak for themselves. This government must respect communities' values towards coexisting with wildlife. Education, enforcement, and other programs should be used as tools to prevent the senseless deaths of wildlife, conflict with people, and to protect biodiversity in Ontario. Coexistence with wildlife should be the cornerstone of all government policy and the implementation of any programs and initiatives pertaining to wildlife. Ministry staff must respond proactively in communities where human-wildlife conflicts exist to reduce negative effects to wildlife and the communities themselves, and should not be subjected to political interference while carrying out their duties.

This government has done much harm to coyotes, their animal relations, and people who care about nature. What kind of legacy will you leave for Ontario and Ontarians? There is a place in this province for each and every one of us to live full lives, whether we are children, youth, seniors, disabled persons, unemployed persons, workers, or another species.   Ethical, sustainable, and practical solutions exist to all our challenges. The outcome, as always, lies with the will and wisdom of our social, spiritual, and political leaders.

Roslyn Cassells
roslyncassells@yahoo.ca

Roslyn Cassells is a BC based social justice activist and Canada's first elected Green. She is an ardent animal and human rights activist, and writes, teaches and campaigns for positive social, economic and ecological change everywhere. @roslyncassells on Twitter, Action for UVic Rabbits facebook and Roslyn Cassells facebook