Written by: Heather Clemenceau, with files from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance
The fractious first two days of the Short Hills hunt saw the life drained out of 18 deer on Saturday and 8 on Sunday. One deer was wounded on the first day and finally put out of its misery on the second day. The protesters maintained their composure despite the “rent-a-crowd” anti-protest protesters who have taken the low road by roughing up a demonstrator on November 14th. Despite the letter sent to Niagara Regional Police Services board by the Animal Alliance of Canada, there were two more incidences of unsecured weaponry by the hunters. The misconduct continued when a hunter’s vehicle made contact and pushed an anti-hunt protester while the MNR and OPP looked on distractedly, a demonstrator’s car was scratched, and a discarded sign was deliberately stuck to the side of an anti-hunt protester’s car. I’m sure that the police video will ferret out the culprit(s) responsible, since the entire demonstration is video taped all day long by the OPP and Niagara Regional Police.
With over 100 hunters entering the park in only two days, this hunt now bears more than a passing resemblance to the despised Florida bear hunt that left many young animals without their mothers. And like the Florida hunt, there are no limits on the number, sex, or age of the deer who will be killed – Short Hills park hunters are told they need not be “biased” in selecting an animal to kill based on age, giving free rein to the human tendency to exterminate everything that lacks a human face. The Short Hills Wildlife Alliance continues to make good use of Access-To-Information documents, – the latest information shows that a high percentage of deer killed in previous hunts (2013 and 2014) were lactating females or were immature and under 1 year of age.
The Protocol Agreement – A Non-Binding, Feel-Good Piece of Creative Writing
Yes – it’s exists, but after reading it one wonders why they even bothered to draft it at all. The word “harvest” or a variation of it was used 144 times in the above Protocol of 3,077 words. Of course, the hunting industry doesn’t like the word “kill” because it exposes the lie that animals die peacefully after being shot or otherwise tortured. Merely using the word “kill” also infers that there is no management of the hunt, while the term “harvest” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a crop that is planted and cultivated by continuous hard labour. Of course, the hunters do nothing resembling care of this “crop.” Neither are the hunters collecting rainwater for irrigation or ripening turnips, although the hunt does bring to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down. It’s just another level of duplicity used to get the public on board with having arrows fly through the park. Shame on the so-called animal rights activists who embrace this linguistic trickery…
From the Protocol:
Friendship is the new commandment here, where nothing is binding on the hunters and there are no penalties for non-compliance. The designated hunt days can change at any time, which hardly seems safe given the number of entry points for the park and the lack of notice. Indeed, there’s not much that the hunters have to comply with at all – there is no “bag limit” on the number of deer that are to be killed and no limit to the number of hunters allowed in the park. And according to the MNR, securing bows is voluntary when convenient and therefore almost an afterthought (It is actually a requirement of the Fish and Wildlife Act).
“In the interests of safety, when possible, all archery equipment should be unloaded and encased outside of the harvest hours or when outside the harvest zone.”
The protocol goes on to state that if permission to enter private property is denied by the property owner (in order to kill a wounded deer), it will be the responsibility of the property owner to dispose of the deer. Why should a homeowner take responsibility and liability for a hunter to hunt on their property? What is the plan in the event the homeowner isn’t home or doesn’t wish to allow access? Why should the homeowner bear the burden of euthanasia and deadstock removal if the deer is still alive and suffering? The suggestion that the homeowners must take ownership of wounded deer wouldn’t withstand any legal litmus test. The fact that the MNR have to include such language for the eventuality of wounded deer on private property (which has already occurred) is proof hunting in a park that boundaries an urban area is not appropriate.
“MNRF and Haudenosaunee monitoring and observation have concluded that the deer population at Short Hills is significantly larger than the Park’s ecosystem can support in a balanced way. The biological diversity of the Park is being impacted.”
Where is the substantiation for this claim? All deer examined in post-mortems appear to be of healthy weight and are apparently free of parasites and pathological conditions (at least none are mentioned in the access-to-information documents obtained by Short Hills Wildlife Alliance). What surveillance have the Haudenosaunee conducted of their own volition?
“Both the Haudenosaunee and MNRF will provide first aid supplies. Each MNRF vehicle will carry a first aid kit. A first aid station will be maintained at the Park’s work centre on 1st Street Louth.”
Bandaids and Chapstick – clearly useful for those soft-tissue injuries you’ll suffer when the MNR tries to run you down. Bizarrely though, the MNR Protocol identifies a major safety concern as the “presence off a large number of people at or near the Pelham Road entrance…” Outside of the hunt itself, the other principal risks come from rage-o-holic MNR agents and rogue counter-protesters who attempt physical intimidation or participate in causing vehicular damage. On the other hand, the anti-hunt protesters have maintained their composure – who among the them is going to get into an altercation with hunters who have unsecured weapons anyway?
Access-To-Information Data Reveal Many Immature Deer Harvested Killed
The observational data collected in two previous hunts is extremely useful for refuting several claims by the MNR that there is overpopulation in the park, or that there is great concern over the spread of Lyme disease. While Lyme surveillance is important and ongoing, there seems to be little risk with the disease in this geographical area, an observation that is supported by the fact that current surveillance programs have not identified Short Hills as an area of heightened risk. Nor did the post-mortems indicate the presence of ticks or internal parasites.
Post Mortem Stats:
- 52 deer examined before or after field dressing, by MNR staff
- 13 of these deer were fawns
- 12 deer weighed 90 lbs or less
- Oldest deer estimated by be 7.5 years of age
- Youngest deer estimated to be “0” age
- Smallest deer was 66 lbs (about the weight of the average golden retriever)
- 45% of does were in various stages of lactation
- Several deer were close to or over 200 lbs.
- No ticks were observed
Age and weight are very important data points because they provide an index of population size relative to the habitat carrying capacity. In the wild, deer usually live no more than 10 years. The average age of the deer in the MNR’s data is lowered considerably due to the killing of fawns that otherwise would have lived a few more years. The age of the oldest deer is a good indication that there is a desirable apex predator/prey balance in the park. In most species of deer, lactation, which is the most energetically demanding component of maternal care, continues for about 80-100 days after birth, which occurs in May/June. It continues until the next rut. Lactation data provides evidence that the doe raised one or more fawns and is an indicator of good overall reproductive health in the herd (versus starvation). The Protocol describes the deer as an important source of food for the hunters, but how hungry do you have to be that you can’t walk away from a 66 lb fawn? This fawn, along with some of the others, was most likely born in May or June of this year. This baby and her mother were probably both snuffed-out while standing together.
The MNR has offered several insipid excuses for the Short Hills hunt – population control, deer in over-abundance, and most recently now Lyme disease, but have provided no evidence for any of it. In fact, the MNR’s own empirical data disproves their bogus rhetoric. Even if the deer are at or over their biological carrying capacity, a hunt will temporarily reduce their numbers but will leave more food per deer, causing more twins and triplets to be born next year.
If either the MNR or the hunters think there are too many deer and the deer are going to starve to death, they should stop increasing the number of deer. Hunting is necessary – for hunters – so they can increase the population of deer for subsequent hunts. And it’s obscene that over 100 hunters have entered the park in only two days and that 25% of the deer killed in previous hunts are probably animals that were only born a few months earlier. Maybe the MNR tally of the casualties should have included the babies of those does who were still lactating……