'Nuisance' Wildlife Campaign
Common Wildlife is a vital component of our rural, urban and natural communities, deserving respect for their adaptability, resilience and intelligence.
Whether common wildlife is viewed as ‘nuisance’ or ‘over-abundant’ is a personal view and not based on science or ecological or biological criteria.
It’s based on social tolerance, also referred to as ‘social carrying capacity’.
Measuring social carrying capacity is often determined on the tolerance level of specific demographics and businesses such as farmers, property owners and sport hunting and angling interests rather than overall public attitudes towards wildlife.
The lack of tolerance for common wildlife can result in government programs aimed at reducing wildlife populations by shooting, trapping and poisoning.
To win public support for such controversial actions, natural activities of wildlife are given a negative value with no consideration to their ecological value or any other value.
White-tailed Deer, Double-crested Cormorants and the North American Coyote have been chosen to highlight the plight of ‘nuisance’ wildlife in Ontario. All three have been negatively portrayed as 'nuisance' and have suffered from brutal lethal government management programs.
Our ‘Nuisance’ Wildlife Campaign is part of a broader public outreach campaign with a two-fold goal: foster a greater appreciation for common wildlife that are negatively labelled as 'nuisance', and promote a policy of peaceful co-existence.
The campaign begins with a photographic portrait exhibit to be held in communities across Ontario, along with special guest speakers.
Coyotes are both predators and scavengers and are found only in North America.
For the last two years, Ontario has experienced a frenzied hunt of coyotes encouraged by sport hunting clubs through the promotion of coyote killing contests. Such contests are defacto coyote bounties and are illegal in Ontario.
They have continued for the last two years because the Ontario government has quietly approved the illegal activity by choosing not to enforce its own laws.
There is now a proposal to set a $200 bounty for every dead coyote - a bounty paid with taxpayer dollars.
It appears that many livestock producers, including sheep farmers, do not support these renegade killing contests and bounties. They would prefer either direct compensation for livestock loss due to coyote predation or assistance in establishing preventative infrastructure. Neither of these options is currently being considered by the Ontario government.
It is noteworthy that the percentage of livestock lost by coyote predation has not increased in the last ten years and in some areas has decreased
The proponents of such bounties admit coyote killing contests are not intended to assist farmers but rather draw new membership to an otherwise fading sport hunting industry and sport hunting clubs. This is true for many 'nuisance' wildlife, most of which are also 'game' species.
White-tailed Deer is a ‘game’ species in Ontario, and its population is managed for this purpose. Deer are herbivores which mean they eat only plants. They are considered ‘nuisance’ when they browse on farmers’ crops, or bed down in farmers’ fields. In cities, homeowners living near wooded areas complain deer are eating their flower gardens. Deer are also blamed for causing car collisions during their spring and winter migration.
In recent years, the Ontario government has responded to these complaints by removing protection for White-tailed Deer.
Farmers no longer need to experience crop damage by browsing deer to receive a permit to kill them. They only need to confirm that deer live in the vicinity of their farm by noting a deer trail or bedding area. If deer live anyway near a farm, farmers can choose to shoot them. This is described as ‘preventive’ policy.
The number of deer a sport hunter could kill was raised to seven animals per hunter in targeted areas, far exceeding the reasonable amount of deer meat a single family could consume in one year.
Sport hunting on private property was encouraged by allowing property owners to charge an ‘access fee’ of sport hunters. This allowed property owners to profit from the killing of deer.
The result has been that the deer population in eastern and southern Ontario has suffered a dramatic decline. Ironically, deer associated car collision did not see a similar decline.
Double-crested Cormorants are being systematically eliminated from the Great Lakes basin by a joint concerted effort by state, federal and provincial fish and wildlife government agencies primarily to appease an irate sport fishing lobby that have long accused the bird of eating ‘too many fish’.
In some cases, such as Point Pelee National Park, government agencies argue that double-crested cormorants are ‘destroying’ trees and ground vegetation and must be killed to ‘preserve biodiversity’. This argument is being made across the southern Great Lakes where cormorants typically nest in trees.
In the name of ‘preserving biodiversity’, both Ontario Parks and Parks Canada have initiated a massive killing program of nesting Double-crested Cormorants – a native migratory bird that nests on the Great Lakes.
Since 2000, tens of thousands of cormorants have been killed either through direct shooting of nesting adult birds or through egg oiling, a process of coating eggs with mineral oil to suffocate the embryo inside eliminating an entire generation of young birds.
The Ontario Parks’ program has been successfully challenged through citizen action and is currently being revised.
The killing of cormorants is most efficient during the nesting period because the birds display a strong maternal instinct making them reluctant to leave their nests during times of disturbance or threat.
Government sharpshooters simply take aim at birds sitting idle on their nests incubating their eggs. Typically, hundreds of birds can be killed within a few hours, and thousands within a few days.