Tag Archives: Short Hills Park

Short Hills Deer Hunt – Remains Of The Day

Short Hills Deer Hunt – Remains Of The Day

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

I find that there is a bizarre disconnect between the public face that hunters would like to present and the disturbing findings observed after the hunt is over. Nothing calls attention to this incongruity like a wounded animal and discarded remains scattered throughout the park. I’m not sure what enrages me the most, the MNRF’s ongoing assault on wildlife or the flagrant hypocrisy of doing it under the cover of something called either a “herd reduction” or “traditional hunt.”  The hunters and their supporters continue to make broad pronouncements and allegations about anti-hunt demonstrators when in fact all people should be free to express themselves without fear of being labelled in a derogatory fashion.  The disconnects seen in much of the reasoning by the pro-hunt cause are so enormous that it feels like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen.  (Please note that in order to depict the visceral nature of the hunt,  photos included herein are GRAPHIC and DISTURBING).

With the 2017 hunt now concluded, the MNRF has tallied up the kill numbers for this year.  On at least one day their tally does not even agree with number counted by the police, so how transparent or honest/accurate is the reporting?  These numbers do not include the 4 deer that were found either abandoned or wounded outside the hunt zone and found dressed on private property, awaiting delivery by the MNRF to the staging area.  This year, vehicles with license plates from Quebec and even Florida were observed entering the park to kill deer.  I guess we should assume that there are no raw forests in either Quebec or Florida that can host deer hunting anywhere other than in a NO HUNT park in environmentally significant area?


Day 1 (November 11)  17 deer were killed – 8 male and 9 female, two of which were fawns

Day 2 (November 12)  – 6 deer were killed – 2 male and 4 female deer were killed (The Ministry refused to tell us how many were fawns)

Day 3 (November 25) – 15 deer were killed (although protesters and police counted 21 by visual confirmation)

Day 4 (November 26)  –  4 deer were killed – MNRF won’t disclose, but 6 deer were counted in a single truck

Day 5 (December 4)   MNRF won’t disclose, but 6 deer were counted in a single truck

Day 6 (December 5)   1 deer was killed


Unpacking the hypocrisy of the hunt and its proponents:

The hunters have long maintained that hunting in the park is a food sovereignty issue and they use all parts of the deer. So why are there so many skins, heads, and gut piles strewn throughout the park well after the hunt?  Why was a disembodied deer head shuttled in and out of the park over several days – why has the body apparently been abandoned in a food sustenance hunt? And why was a deer carcass abandoned at the foot of Swayze Falls, where it has remained for several days and is possibly still there?  For many people, the type of sporting contest apparently taking place in Short Hills (the “Big Buck Competition”) is representative of an anthropocentric philosophical perspective – the antithesis of what we are told is indigenous hunting.  Paradoxically, the taking of trophies is a product of the colonial/capitalist forces that the pro-hunt groups claim they despise.   An animal trophy reminds us, on a subliminal level, of the wealthy hunters depleting the landscapes on foreign lands in order to assert their ascendancy and control.

In another ironic exchange,  the (satirical but unintentionally accurate) Walking Eagle News makes the point that anyone taking hunting selfies puts ego over responsibility.  The number of “selfies” taken for the Big Buck Competition held in Short Hills suggests that many participants are more interested in obtaining trophies than in adhering  to “cultural traditions.” I doubt that most people who truly engage in subsistence hunting spend a lot of time on Facebook.



Once again this year, the pro-hunt camp complained that our signage is somehow racist (any kind of trigger that makes a hunt support angry or defensive is considered racist – even our last names evoke feelings of distrust, prejudice, and blame).  However,  unlike a person’s name or place of birth, beliefs can be argued for, tested, criticized, and changed. The more pugnacious hunt supporters turned their attention to our clothing – we should all expect a turn in the cage with someone from this group either online or IRL.  On this day, the supports are affronted by a protester wearing a “skull” face shield.  A complaint was received by police on the scene November 25th, asking that the protester be removed because of his attire.  Why is a face shield commonly sold in outdoor stores considered to be objectionable when worn by an anti-hunt demonstrator?   It seems perfectly acceptable however, when donned by a hunter.



In previous hunts it has been observed that some hunters attempted to walk into or out of the park after it commenced, with unencased bows.  Joe McCambridge, former president of the Ontario Conservation Officers Associations (OCOA), stresses that: “If you are going to hunt until the end of legal shooting time, you must take a proper case with you and encase your firearm after [sundown]. This includes bows and crossbows.”  I wonder what McCambridge would think of bows that are completely forgotten in the park? This bow was accidentally left in the park as-is, by a careless hunter after the sanctioned hunt in 2016,  and was found by someone walking the trails the next day.  It was turned over to the police.

The deer in the album below were found both in the park and well beyond the park boundary and buffer zone on private property, further evidence that the hunt is not safe and that boundaries simply aren’t respected.  All images are from the current 2017 hunt.  The dead deer at Swayze Falls was abandoned with an obvious hunting-related injury.  The MNRF appears to frown on the killing and abandonment of deer when it occurs in provincial parks that are not Short Hills. How many  other deer suffered and died on their own, undiscovered by anyone?

Some hunt supports have claimed that whenever injured deer are found,  it can only be due to poachers.  If so, then the poachers were hunting in the park at the same time as the Haudensaunee hunters,  in which case the MNRF is unable to effectively close the park to people who are not permitted to be there.



All photos below were captured within Short Hills Park or the Hydro corridor over several hunts.  The doe with the neatly assembled entrails and head was tracked by her blood trail from the park to the Hydro corridor.  All the rest of the entrails and various remains were found within the park on a main hiking trail about an 8 minute hike from the Wiley Rd. parking lot, a designated entrance into the park, some heavily predated by the time they were found.

To those pro-hunters who claim the remains found in the park have been “staged” by animal rights activists,  we can only ask,  where would AR activists obtain the remains of deer?  I suggest that the conspiracy-minded become acquainted with William of Ockham’s most famous quote: “With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.” 



The prevailing monologue we hear about the Short Hills hunt is that it’s an issue of a right to hunt and that the hunt is based on subsistence needs/food sovereignty etc., but commentary and photos by the hunters themselves suggests otherwise.  Since the hunt began in 2013,  almost 200 deer have been killed according to the MNRF’s own records, and even if we assume that’s accurate,  it doesn’t account for deer that escaped with fatal injuries,  to die later elsewhere.   The rate of extermination of deer,  the level of depreciative use, and damage to the park during the days of the hunt is far greater than the ability of the resource to conserve itself.

The pre-ecological thinkers at the MNRF continue to take the road of junk-science in furthering their agenda – greenwashing the hunt as a “herd reduction” of “overpopulated deer,” which coats this violence with a respectable veener for public consumption. But by the Ministry’s own account not a single deer examined by the biologist during the hunt showed signs of starvation or illness, measures of overabundance.  How long do they think this NO HUNT Short Hills  Game Farm  park can sustain the killing of 30-50 deer each and every year?  Not only that, but why should any hunter anywhere have the exclusive “right” to kill any animal that the rest of society might value alive?  Killing a sentient being is the ultimate oppression, no matter what the reason or who is carrying it out.


“Kill Everything”





The Devastating Effects of Hunting and Poaching In Short Hills Provincial Park

George Catlin - National Museum of Wildlife Art

George Catlin – National Museum of Wildlife Art

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the hierarchy of public lands, parks are the most special places, where nature and all its associated diversions – quiet streams, the scents of the forest after a rain, and the occasional sightings of deer and other animals – are sacrosanct.

George Catlin, a painter of native American art, experienced  the western Great Plains when it was untouched by extensive American development. While witnessing the beauty of this land, he wrote, “…what a beautiful and thrilling specimen….. to preserve and hold up to the view of her refined citizens and the world in future ages!  A nation’s park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty.”

Hunting methods have changed a lot since Catlin painted his scenes of bison hunts.  No longer are many  parks primarily left relatively undisturbed  to preserve and protect natural resources but now they must be the venue for a vast array of harmful activities.

The Short Hills Park in the Niagara Peninsula is being destroyed not only by the sanctioned Haudenosaunee native deer hunt each year, but also by illegal and off-Shorthills1seasoned hunting. Poaching and the fear and disruption it causes compromises animals’ normal eating habits, making it harder for them to store the fat and energy they need to survive the winter. The hunt has also devastated the entire community and left residents constantly on edge,  long after the official hunt is over.  Horses live on the outskirts of the park as well, making the park perimeter a dangerous place due to the continual presence of poachers.

Disinterested indentured public servants in the Ministry of Natural Resources have no apparent interest in overseeing the parks. With budgets for maintenance exhausted on the private exploitation of the park, Short Hills is essentially abandoned without oversight. When vegetation is destroyed by 4WD vehicles, plant vigor and regeneration is reduced, ground cover is deteriorated, and there can be a change in species composition.  Inappropriate behaviours such as littering and other depreciative uses add to the degradation of the park.

Shorthills2While the MNR is busy circulating social memes to discourage the use of bird feeders by private citizens, they have no comment on the garbage accumulating in the park.  If bird feeders can attract bears, why is nothing done about garbage in the environmentally significant Fonthill Kame Moraine?  Not only that, gut piles and the remainders of deer carcasses can attract bears,  and are disturbing reminders of this cruel hunt.  Even if one is not in the park to poach deer, the condition of some trails and presence of trash do not inspire visitors to pack out all their garbage.  Perhaps the MNR will have to find space in their budget now to promote the seven principles of the “Leave No Trace” program?

Hunt supporters’ critique of the anti-hunt protesters at Short Hills has often focused on what they claim is the “unacknowledged racism” of nearby “NIMBY do-gooders” as the motivating factors in our protests.  Acrimonious counter-campaigns by hunt supporters seem to have at their core the presumption that protected public lands are there for individual use however they see fit and it is racist to suggest otherwise.   The reality is that vigilant neighbours  are good indicators of a great community.  A population of people like the anti-hunt demonstrators is actually among the most valuable resources a neighbourhood can have.

And it’s always “someone’s backyard” isn’t it?

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Short Hills Deer Hunt Supporters – Taking Refuge In Lies

The sheer size of these vehicles means that they are incompatible with the ecosphere of a park.

The sheer size of these vehicles means that they are incompatible with the ecosphere of a park. Consider that there may be 20-30 of these trucks driving around the park each day of the hunt.  There are no limits on the number of hunters or vehicles in the park on any hunt day.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos by: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Nothing like putting things in perspective.

Throughout the 2015 Short Hills Park deer slaughter, hunt supporters collectively jumped on the martyrdom bandwagon. Spurious claims of racism and abuse of hunt supporters are all ridiculous and cannot stand the barest scrutiny. The complainants, who include Brock University students, native hunt supporters, Food Not Bombs, HALT (Hamilton/Halton Animal Liberation Team), and Christian Peacemaker Teams, are consistently unable to support a single slanderous claim of their own making with a photograph or video of abuse or misbehaviour by the hunt protesters. At the start of the hunt several of them finally decided to go for the whole loaf and slandered us on CFBU Brock University Student Radio. And when confronted about the accusations, the student radio organizers hastily yanked the program.

Evidently not one of these counter protesters can grasp the significance of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote above. There is no person or culture that is or should be immune to critique – the charge of racism against those who are opposed to the hunt is just an updated, politically correct version of the cry of blasphemy – a fashionable position for those who want to mask their role as censors. My view is that criticism of the deer hunt or the hunters can never be off limits. In addition, this particular issue invites scrutiny because the counter protesters make claims that are put before the public that they urge the public to accept, via the student radio program and various social media channels. Left unchecked, these false claims equate the anti-hunting position with racism, while the narratives of others are hushed, creating an unmanageable template for the future. To our knowledge, no organizers of the student radio program asked for proof from these students, nor did they attempt to contact anyone from the Short Hills Wildlife Alliance for a rebuttal. The original broadcast is gone, but a copy is presented here and annotated with the most objectional statements:

Listen to the CFBU Brock University Student Radio Show:



1:34“It’s a spiritual hunt, they use every part of the deer.” (this does not explain the bag of deer skins nor the deer heart and other body parts found in the park immediately after the 2014 hunt.  And they certainly don’t use the deer who have been injured and escaped to die a lingering death).

2:50“It’s a bit of a mixed bag of protesters.”  (The most unintentionally ironic and laughable sound bite of each hunt. Lather, rinse, and repeat).

3:48“Their [anti-hunt] signs read all sorts of derogatory comments, derogatory language, quite a hostile and intense experience last year.” (Amazingly, no one supporting the hunt has presented any photographic or video evidence of derogatory comments or language at any hunt at Short Hills – because they never happened and don’t exist. Mouths open, lies come out).

4:19 – “It was a very aggressive time, folks would jump into the backs of the vehicles, people were spat on, antennas were broken, people opened the doors to get into the cars, children were intimidated.” (Once again, where is the evidence? Why did the police not remove or charge any of the anti-hunt protesters? Everything at the hunt is videotaped by the OPP/Niagara Regional Police, and this is the age of smart phones – evidence,  if it exists,  is easy enough to capture. Have any of these infantile, flower-child idealists noticed that the demonstrators they refer to are virtually all middle-aged and well-educated professional people, mostly women, who would never consider leaping into a truck bed, snapping off an antenna, or yanking open a door with two or more hunters inside the vehicle with unencased weapons? (personally,  my Ninja days are long over – it’s been several years since I could leap into the bed of a truck and wrestle hunters with my bare  hands, while ripping off an antenna with my teeth). Spitting is an assault, and such records, if they actually existed, would be trivially easy to source through FOIA requests. I have never even seen children at either of the protests I’ve attended (if you’re old enough to smoke, you are not a child). This particular segment of the audio is the most fanciful invention yet. One can only wonder what inaccurate generalizations will be made next year if there is a hunt).

5:26“The more supporters were there, the more the protest would de-escalate.” (Of course, when you make shit up, the reality that you actually see at the hunt gives the impression that the peacemakers have actually accomplished something when they have in fact done nothing).

6:40“The peace food table will be provided by community members.” (Yes, and they ask for the public’s donations in order to feed themselves).

The hunters and their supporters all use Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to convince the public that the anti-hunt demonstrators are hostile and violent. Of course, anyone with critical thinking skills would start to wonder why the scant photos they do provide do not support the subtext.


Food Not Bombs, the organizers of the “peace food table,” carries with it a profound history of social unrest. The group may even be on the FBI’s domestic terrorist watch. Food Not Bombs serves almost exclusively vegan food (no meat, dairy or other animal products (at least when it’s convenient), in an attempt to show their stance towards nonviolence against animals. However,  they seem to have little difficulty with the serving of venison at the “peace food table.”

As it turns out, the “peacemakers” charged with protecting the hunters from the protesters might not be so peaceable after all. The Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Twitter feed about the protest also perpetuated numerous overtly false or misleading statements about the protesters. A religious extremist group with

Poaching is now a regular occurrence on the outskirts of the park. Drive by the perimeter and you can easily see trucks parked, and sometimes you can see the hunters in full camo emerging

Poaching is now a regular occurrence on the outskirts of the park. Drive by the perimeter and you can easily see trucks parked, and sometimes you can see the hunters in full camo emerging. Does hunting in the park contribute to poaching by others? Does it create a sense of entitlement in non-First Nations hunters?

Mennonite roots (they preach non-violence, but lying is apparently OK), they are best known for offering themselves as human shields for Saddam Hussain in 2005 after the invasion of Iraq. Their purpose was to disable the US military – what they accomplished was something entirely different. About a half-dozen of the Peacemakers ended-up getting kidnapped by guerilla Iraqi soldiers – one was eventually killed,  because war is a serious business best left to professional soldiers. They had to be rescued, putting soldiers at-risk with a dangerous mission. They were also accused of not initially expressing gratitude towards the soldiers who freed them (I guess they’re so anti-war, they resent being rescued). So, are the Christian Peacemakers, a group whose funding comes in part from the Mennonites, a religious or a political group? The Canada Revenue Agency warned the Mennonite church about their political activities back in 2012 when they reminded them that it’s not acceptable for a charitable organization to engage in political activities. Aside from this,  the Mennonites themselves are hardly known for compassion towards animals – they,  along with the Amish,  are big time puppymillers and some work as kill buyers,  supplying horses for the cruel equine slaughter industry.

Damage to the park is proof positive that the hunting activity does not preserve the area and is hardly low impact. Anyone who engages in unethical hunting practices, which includes leaving huge six inch ruts where none previously existed, undoubtedly merits opprobrium. Indeed, it was Paleo-Indians who helped hunt mega-fauna like the mammoth to extinction, the Maori in New Zealand who exterminated the flightless moa, and pre-historic Pacific Islanders who extirpated more than a thousand species of birds. These are not racist statements but statements of fact. Neither is this statement meant to detract from the thousands of species extinctions caused by all of us collectively. As human beings, this is a reflection on all of us as a species; it’s one of our defining, less endearing traits. And this makes our determination to preserve the park all that more urgent.

If our objections to the hunt reflect a skewed world-view, should it not be possible to critique our philosophy without going to the trouble of lying?


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“We cannot have peace among men whose hearts find delight in killing any living creature.”

~ Rachel Carson ~


Disclosed Short Hills Park Hunting Documents Continue To Disprove MNR Rhetoric


deer-postcard-copyWritten 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 Wood god kills rabbitsaverage 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……



Aftermath Of The Short Hills Deer Hunt – Optimizing The Use Of FOIA Documentation


Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The final Ministry of Labour costs for the six-day 2014 deer hunt by members of the Haudenosaunee Aboriginal Community is $61,959. Of the Ministry costs, $19,286 was for salaries, $32,750 for accommodation and meals and $9,923 in miscellaneous costs.  Not included are the wages for Ontario Provincial Police or Niagara Regional Police, who were present at the hunt every day with a headcount of 6-12 officers at any given time.  When their salaries and overtime are factored in, the cost for the hunt could easily approach $200,000. This still does not include the costs downloaded to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, which in 2013 sorted through “approximately 2,300 pages of records, including briefing notes, house notes, correspondence, e-mails, plans, handwritten notes and agreements” in order to respond to a Freedom of Information request by the Welland Tribune alone.

John Salo from the Ministry of Natural Resources reported that a total of 67 ministry staff were involved throughout the hunt, with about 45 staff on site daily in November and December.  Salo claimed additional ministry staff were required to ensure public and harvester safety at Short Hills Provincial Park due to an increased number of protesters.”  This last statement is a blatant attempt to blame the cost on conscientious objectors to the hunt, however it was the police and not the MNR who primarily interacted with protesters (unless you count the lurid sexist gestures made by someJody Bersma MNR staff to the female protesters).  The open records request did not reveal a single communication that expressed concern over the number of protesters (and therefore a need to increase staff). It’s bogus because the number of protesters had no bearing on the MNR staff who were responsible for marking trees with hunt and buffer zones, patrolling the park to keep public out and keep the hunters in after they left the hunt boundary and had to be corralled back (5), or the “valet services” provided to hunters when dead deer were shuttled in the park via ATV. Despite having all these people in the park, the Ministry still could not control the number of hunters in Short Hills (although clearly they had no intention of doing so), nor could they help locate a wounded deer which survived a night with an arrow in its stomach.

All these MNR staff members would have been present at the park even if there were no protesters at all.  In any case, it is the protesters who need protection against the MNR, if the incident involving MNR Superintendent Richard Post is any indication.

After an unfathomably long investigation of more than two months by the OPP, Post, who pushed a demonstrator with an MNR vehicle out into the road after a protest in December 2014, has been exonerated. This, despite the fact that the Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to drive or operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public.

driftwoodThe arms-up, stick-swinging superintendent has a history of causing dissension during the course of his employment  In 2011, he came under scrutiny when a video of him flinging driftwood logs from a teepee-style structure while surrounded by bewildered beach-goers appeared online.  Tensions came to a head in April 2012 when Post was charged with one count of assault after a confrontation with a 73 year old cottager at Rondeau Provincial Park. Those charges were also dismissed in October 2013. Even though more than 320 cottagers petitioned the Ministry of Natural Resources to transfer him, the MNR and Ontario Parks somehow continued to support his methods whilst simultaneously having issues with the stakeholder complaint process.

There was certainly no love lost between Post and the Rondeau Cottagers Association, who wrote in their newsletter after his transfer to Pinery Park that:

“Post’s time here will be remembered by the public for being charged by the OPP with assaulting Garnet Smith two Deer snowyears ago this week, and for demolishing the Big Dock.  Those of us on the RCA Executive view his legacy as the complete loss of a formerly-respectful stakeholder relationship, a shameful breakdown in communication resulting in deepening entrenchment, and ultimately an abject four-year failure of leadership & park management.  When U.S. President Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1980, he asked voters if they were better-off now than they were four years ago.  To paraphrase the late President:  “Is Rondeau better-off now than it was four years ago?”  I vote no.”

How Was Short Hills Park chosen for a hunt when other locations appeared to be more suitable?  Open records requests by the Short Hills Alliance did not provide an answer to this question.  In fact, in all the FOIA information presented to the Alliance, Short Hills was not short-listed or even mentioned once as a possibility.  In reviewing the other available options presented to the Haudenosaunee, it becomes apparent that Short Hills was not any more suitable or desirable than practically any other proffered site.  FOIA requests did reveal that the Haudenosaunee requested additional outsourced deer since the number of available deer on the reservation had diminished, leaving them 10-12 deer short each year for Long House Ceremonial functions.  Reading between the lines, the implication here is perhaps that the traditional grounds may have been over hunted.

Deer WinterThe native hunters requested isolated hunting lands that were not currently open to regular hunters, and they were willing to travel anywhere in the watershed.  Clearly there would have been several more suitable options for hunting if areas that were already used for this activity would have been acceptable.  The natives were working on 27 land claims, and said that pre-existing treaties allowed them to hunt in all of South Western Ontario. 

Other areas discussed for hunting included: Wainfleet Bog,  Navy Island,  Dundas Valley, Willoughby Marsh,  Humberstone Marsh,  South Cayuga/Townsend,  (2) Balls Falls, Binbrook,  Canborough,  Chippawa Creek,  E.C. Brown,  Hedley Forest, Jordan Harbour,  Long Beach,  Mud Lake (4) and Port Davidson, Ruigrok Tract,  St. Johns, Stevensville,  Virgil Dams and Reservoirs, and Wainfleet Wetlands (6)

These  sites may have been ruled out for the following reasons (itemized on spreadsheets by MNR staff and obtained by FOIA requests):

Wainfleet Bog – Public hunting was already in the park, there was public opposition for closing area for exclusive hunt, difficulty walking through would make for a difficult hunt, site is home of Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake and other species at risk, Six Nations had already had discussions but did not pursue, there was difficulty in distinguishing between Crown owned and NPCA owned lands, the area was surrounded by private land,  and there was difficulty in ensuring safety due to large area

Navy Island – A Niagara Parks Agreement would have been required, problem with firearms on Parkway, hunting was deemed too difficult, normally a public outcry when hunt takes place, access by boat, tourist area – highly visible

Dundas Valley – No real increased hunting opportunity as Six Nations is already hunting there, public not happy with hunting in the area, highly populated

Willoughby Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, small recreational area, public opposition to closing area for exclusive hunt, difficult to hunt and low deer concentrations

Humberstone Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, proximity to city of Port Colborne, low deer concentrations

South Cayuga/Townsend – Land is leased so landowner permission required

Balls Falls – No hunting season

Binbrook – Hunting from designated blinds only, hunting blind fee applies, already being used by other hunters

Canborough – No hunting season

Chippewa Creek – Hunting restrictions in some blocks

E.C. Brown – No hunting season

Hedley Forest – Conservation Area boundaries

Humberstone Marsh – Conservation Area boundaries

Jordan Harbour – No hunting season

Long Beach – Some area restrictions

Mud Lake – Hunting from designated blinds only

Port Davidson – No hunting season

Ruigrok Tract – Conservation area boundaries

St. Johns – No hunting season

Stevensville – No hunting season

Virgil Dams and Reservoirs – No hunting season

Wainfleet Bog – Designated areas only

Wainfleet Wetlands – Boundary  restrictions, no ATVs allowed in conservation areas

Notice the number of sites that currently allow hunting but have low populations of deer.  This suggests that the areas are being hunted to excess.  Notice also that the Short Hills Alliance is not the only group in opposition to deer hunting in their backyards.

The Short Hills deer hunt demonstrates the importance of open records for government transparency. The park was selected despite the fact that it also featured expanses of private land around the perimeter, there were objections to hunting, it was of small size, and there continue to be low hunting success rates (as evidenced by up to 70 hunters coming into the park per day,  but killing only 21 deer during the entire hunt),  and unclear hunting boundaries. With the available other options,  the MNR and Ontario Parks would have to be wooden-headed in enforcing subsequent hunts in an area where there is such intense opposition from both the public and the Regional Council members.

According to the law of diminishing returns, we can reasonably presume that if hunting by the Haudenosaunee Deer FallConfederacy on the reserve continued at a steady state or increased while the deer population failed to keep pace or declined, it would become too difficult to kill any deer.  This may explain why the native hunters were unable to continue sourcing deer on the reservation. As a result of population decline, hunters would require increased effort/time as the population reached lower and lower numbers, preventing them from achieving high kill rates.  The only reason populations of deer are not exterminated in this scenario is because of the effort relationship on the part of hunters in general – they tend to give up when it gets too hard,  thus allowing the population of deer to eventually rebound.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, beauty and stability of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it does otherwise. We don’t want to throw any deer under the proverbial bus, but after two hunts outside the reservation, the deer population may rebound and both the MNR and native hunters will reconsider the convenience of hunting in a multi-use park that is the subject of heavy protesting and at a potential cost of up to $200,000 to the taxpayers each hunting season.

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is the one that comes with a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t” ~ Henry Ward Beecher