Three animal rights groups filed a lawsuit in February against the NDMNRF over a coyote-hunting contest held by a Belleville hunting and fishing store.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act
The lawsuit, filed on Feb. 23, was brought forward by Animal Justice, The Fur-Bearers, and Coyote Watch Canada. In their application for judicial review, the groups allege the Natural Resources minister allowed a coyote hunting contest to proceed without the issuance of written Ministerial authorizations they maintain are required under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997.
They also allege the hunting contest that was held by Chesher’s Outdoor Store included a total of $2,500 in cash and prizes awarded to participants for killing coyotes, and subsequently assert that this is an offence under section 11 of the Act to hunt for “gain or the expectation of gain,” to “induce another person to hunt for gain,” or to “pay or accept a bounty,” except with written authorization from the minister. They then claim that the minister was aware of the contest and allowed it to move forward regardless.
Chesher’s Outdoors Store
The groups have asked the Ontario Divisional Court to declare that the Minister’s decision void and of no force or effect. Alternately or additionally, would like the court to declare that the minister erred in law or acted without jurisdiction when he allowed the coyote hunting contest to proceed without issuing written authorizations to the store and contest participants as required under sections 11 and 65 of the Act.
Chesher’s Outdoors Store in Belleville has run the contest since 2018 with approval from the NDMNRF. It has consulted with the ministry and modified rules to ensure the contest is legal and in compliance with the Act. According to the store’s Facebook page, employees have also received abusive phone calls, and threats of death, arson, and violence by some who are opposed to the hunt.
OFAH weighs in
OFAH Resource Management Specialist Lauren Tonelli said the organization supports hunters.
“Coyote hunting is a legal, sustainable activity and our focus is ensuring that coyote hunting in general is better understood and not unnecessarily restricted,” she said. “While we cannot comment on the legality of coyote contests, the OFAH will monitor the outcome of this lawsuit because there is always the potential for a legal precedent that influences interpretation of the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act.”