PRESS RELEASE

Ottawa, August 9, 2002:  This afternoon at about 3:00pm officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Descended onto the property of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre for the purpose of seizing young animals being housed and cared for in its facility.  The Ministry mounted this operation in the face of a legal proceeding that is presently in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.  One of the claims being made in the legal action is for an injunction to restrain the Ministry from seizing or in any way confiscating any animals now under the care and in the custody of the Centre and its foster homes.

While there is, at present, no actual order of the Court restraining the Ministry from effecting a seizure, the Ministry’s lawyers were advised by the Centre’s lawyers yesterday of its intent to appear with Counsel before a judge of the Court as soon as possible in the coming week to ask for an interim injunction to restrict the Ministry from seizing or confiscating the animals as they tried to do.

The injunction if granted would be in force until the Court can schedule a full hearing to determine whether the Ministry has the legal right to take the animals for whatever purpose.

The Centre feels that any Ministry action can and should only be taken if the Court, after hearing argument next week, refuses to grant the interim injunction.

In the meantime, the animals should be left where they are.  They are being cared for and they are safe.

The Centre wishes to assure the public that the animals the Ministry is attempting to take control of are not rabid or otherwise infected, are fully vaccinated, and pose absolutely no risk to public health and safety – they are now under professional care and veterinary supervision and there before there is no reason for the Ministry to seize and confiscate these animals.

The Centre fails to understand why the Ministry is pursuing this course of action.  There has never been a case of raccoon rabies in Ottawa and, in fact, the Ministry in its own publication indicates “the good news part of the provincial picture is raccoon rabies in Eastern Ontario – however you look at the rabies situation, it is a good news story so far in 2002”.