Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Park In Peril – Another Deer Hunt Scheduled for Short Hills

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Hunter snoozes and loses

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

The parks of Canada are available to all Canadians for their benefit, education and enjoyment, and all parks should be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of current and future generations. However, in about two weeks, the Ministry of Natural Resources will once again host the annual fishing derby at Marineland deer hunting at Short Hills Provincial Park, even though hunting is illegal at all other times. On the proposed dates of November 14, 15, 19, 20, 28, and the 29th, the Ministry will allow the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to break virtually all of the rules posted in the park for a ceremonial hunt.

Animal advocates, conservationists, and residents in area the do not believe that hunting is an appropriate activity for a provincial park. Hunting in the park is incompatible with the conservation goals of maintaining species as risk adjacent to areas such as the Golden Horseshoe, which are intensely developed. The Short Hills area contains some of the most extensive natural areas in the Golden Horseshoe, with the highest percentages of forest cover.

The park is part of an environmentally significant area known as the Fonthill Kame Moraine, home to shrubs and herbaceous species not found in other parts of Canada. The largest forest tracts and wetland areas also provide suitable habitat for breeding stock and locally rare birds, reptiles and amphibians. While the deer themselves are not an endangered species, the MNR seems to want the public at large to believe that the relatively small number of animals surveyed in the park are more damaging than climate change and need to be culled on an annual basis. Under the guise of “conservation,” the Ministry has made many unsubstantiated claims that these culls are beneficial to wildlife survival and the environment, which does not explain why there are rules for using the park under regular daily circumstances. According to the MNR themselves, more than 50 of the animals, plants, and lichens found Niagara parks are considered rare and are either threatened endangered. From a conservation biology standpoint, the wildlife in parks are not protected if it is permissible to shoot them.

One of the main objections to the hunt continues to be safety, since past experience has shown that periodically hunters do not adhere to the boundaries established by the MNR, or the Short Hills signboundaries are ambiguous. Prior meetings with the MNR along with Access-To-Information documents have made it abundantly clear that there has never been a signed or agreed-upon safety protocol. The MNR has not even made a quasi-legitimate attempt to limit the number of hunters in the park at any time. These same ATI requests clearly show that hunters breached the buffer zones outside the hunt area and that members of the public were in the park during the hunt.  Despite claims by the MNR that the hunters have never trespassed on private property adjacent to the park, the Ministry have resorted to paying a surveying company more than $3,000 to survey the boundary between private property and the park, another cost to be born by the taxpayers. The most serious accusation of lax security protocols involved unsecured firearms being transported outside of the immediate hunting area; these hunters mingled with hunt observers and crossed the road to their vehicles while their firearms were unencased. Haudenosaunee native Paul Williams, lawyer for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has stated that:

“…the Haudenosaunee law will only allow a hunt if it’s safe,” something he believes is possible using traditional methods. Williams has said that the 1990 Supreme Court decision (The Sparrow Ruling) upheld these rights and hunting can only be limited by a provincial law that is purely aimed at safety. The Supreme Court Decision in R. v. Sparrow was the first Supreme Court of Canada decision which applied s. 35, of the Constitution Act,  which states  that “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” In the foundational Sparrow ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that First Nations have an Aboriginal right, as defined in the Constitution, to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes and that right takes priority over all others, after conservation and safety. The court also ruled that an aboriginal right is not an absolute right and that governments may encroach upon this if they show a compelling and substantial legislative objective while respecting their fiduciary relationship towards the aboriginal people. The result of this decision is, on the one hand, that the aboriginal peoples have priority when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, or gathering for food purposes and on the other hand, that governments can regulate these activities for wildlife conservation or public safety reasons.

Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, recently appeared before the Niagara Police Board to address the observations that some hunters carried unencased firearms outside the park in areas within the jurisdiction of the Niagara Regional Police.  Liz formally presented this information with the purpose of having any subsequent violations addressed by the NRP, since public safety is ostensibly the goal of all involved with the hunt. What’s surprising is that both the MNR and the Niagara Regional Police, despite photographing and videotaping all aspects of the protest and the hunters entering and departing the Pelham Rd. entrance of the park, no one seemed to notice this security breach, which is in contravention of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Read Liz White’s letter to Niagara Regional Police Services Board below:

Public interest measures have to take precedence over hunting rights, since the park is not the only location where hunting for aboriginal ceremonial purposes can take place. Already, a substantial number of hectares of public land in Ontario are available for hunting. Numerous other more remote areas, not boundaried by private property, were proposed and are, by most accounts, suitable alternatives to hunting semi-tame deer in a public park located in an ecologically sensitive area. Parks are seen as peaceful getaways to appreciate and value nature – not places for SUVs,  ATVs,  and certainly not unsecured firearms.

 

Call to Action:

Please write to:

Deb Morton, Executive Director

Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board

68 Church Street, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3C6

Office: (905) 688-3911 x5170 / Mobile: 905-329-7814 / Fax: (905) 688-0036

Email: deb.morton@niagarapolice.ca

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Former Equine Canada Employee Caught Dissing Horse Advocates…

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ComplaintsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

I make no apologies concerning my utter disdain for Equine Canada’s pro-slaughter stance. Therefore, I rarely miss an opportunity to drag them for their varnished perspective of the horse slaughter industry.

On the rare occasion when Equine Canada have mentioned horse slaughter at all it is always a pre-rehearsed talking point that’s usually just plain wrong. And while there may be a schism within EC with regard to slaughter, you know on which side the group’s bread is buttered since they are funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

Who does the EC really represent except elite athletes and Agri-Food Canada anyway? Consider that Canada’s dichotomous pro-slaughter “horse welfare” group HWAC, along with the primarily pro-slaughter provincial horse federations, have been recognized by Equine Canada as their partner for horse welfare in Canada.  Of course HWAC makes known their alliance with American extreme pro-slaughter groups United Horsemen, United Organizations of the Horse, and the apparently defunct IEBA, one of many alphabet companies set up by Sue Wallis. EC doesn’t speak for the average rider, and certainly not for horses. So it is a paradox, that, despite the occasional horse welfare cheerleading by EC, they are utterly silent when it comes down to the issue of the dual commodity riding/meat horse.

The comment below was taken from a Facebook group – it was posted by a former Equine Canada employee. For the record, these incendiary comments about Canada’s National Horse Advocacy group are patently false. I wonder if this individual has ever given any consideration to any of the humane and consumer safety and traceability issues that remain unaddressed by their former employer, no matter how many people make up their various committees?

Commercial pressures will always tend to overwhelm safety concerns, unless there are individuals or groups that work to expose abuses – so who are the true radicals here?

Equine Canada radicals

No, if you’re promoting horse slaughter in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, then YOU are not coming from a good place, nor do you care about horses.

Pointing out industry infractions with information obtained through Access-To-Information requests and via government websites is not a personal attack. Publicizing video evidence of horrific feedlot neglect and egregious abuse in slaughter operations is a right-to-know issue. For example, Migros, Switzerland’s largest retail company & supermarket chain terminated its contract with Bouvry Exports – a decision made after Migros was confronted with horrific images from the Bouvry feedlots. The footage obtained by Animals Angels and Tierschutzbund in October of 2013 showed mares left to die and decompose inside the pen area as well as horses with apparent, contagious diseases and severely overgrown hooves. Video evidence obtained at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation slaughterhouse in St. Andre-Avellin QC, resulted in the plant being shut down for several days for retrofitting. The live draft horse shipments from Calgary and Winnipeg airports to Japan where the horses are slaughtered, violates CFIA and International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations regarding the live shipping of horses by air by having 3 or more horses unsegregated in wooden crates. Despite receiving many letters of complaint to the CFIA and IATA, horses are still being shipped in violation of regulations. Does Equine Canada speak out against any of this?

CHDC’s slaughter stats are updated at least twice yearly, and are taken directly from Statistics provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Of course, the former EC employee doesn’t give an example that supports their accusations but expects those reading their comments to take them at face value. But if you want to examples of outdated stats and sneaky subterfuge, you can easily point a finger at Equine Canada, who sent this letter to MPs which included a justification for horse slaughter, based on the GAO report on horse slaughterHorse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter. Yet curiously, they did not post or promote this now thoroughly debunked GAO report anywhere else that I could see – not on Facebook or on their website. So why did they only include reference to the GAO report in the letter sent to MPs? Is it because they expected that the horse people who read their Facebook page and website would already know that it had been debunked by John Holland of the Equine Welfare Alliance? Whether knowingly or not, EC promoted debunked information  to politicians who were about to vote on Bill C-571 because they likely knew that most politicians are ignorant enough to believe it. However, MP Alex Atamanenko called them out on their incorrect statements:

“I find it troubling that, as an Equine Association concerned with the welfare of horses, you have resorted to the discredited argument that restricting the slaughter industry will result in increased horse neglect and abandonment. The US GAO report you have cited as supporting this argument has been exposed as having misrepresented or omitted relevant data to conclude an increase in abuse and abandonment following the closure of US abattoirs. To state the obvious, since slaughter continued to be available in Canada and Mexico, any rise in reported cases of abuse would necessarily have come from other factors. A critical analysis of the GAO report entitled “How the GAO deceived Congress” makes it glaringly obvious that little credence should be attributed to such a flawed report.”

Equine Canada (via the FEI) has classified approximately 1,000 different drugs as either “Banned” or “Controlled” in the 2015 Equine Prohibited Substances List. Our former employee almost certainly knows that if kill buyers and the owners of slaughter-bound horses had strict liability (as in the world of horse sport), practically no horse would be eligible for slaughter. EC has nothing to say when over 700 horses (450-500 going to slaughter, apparently all are drug-free with clean EIDs) were run through the Dawson Creek auction in British Columbia in September. These horses included registered, sound, very rideable, beautiful, kind, healthy horses. The EID hardly ensures a continuous medical record and certainly does not guarantee food safety, especially when one considers that the drug history of the horse can be completed at the auction and not by the actual owner.

This is a barbaric, unsafe, discredited business – one giant trash heap of cruelty and drugged meat. It’s also a facade of false and incomplete paperwork, concealing incompetence and often outright deceit at the highest levels. Indeed, Equine Canada are utterly silent on this issue of the adulteration of the food chain with undeclared drugs for financial gain,  while it falls upon horse advocates to ensure  that the facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics.