Tag Archives: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

Short Hills Deer Hunt – Remains Of The Day

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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”

 

 

 

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Disclosed Short Hills Park Hunting Documents Continue To Disprove MNR Rhetoric

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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……

 

 

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