Niagara Falls – Two wild canids were found shot to death and dumped in the snow just outside Awenda Provincial Park last week, where hunting is illegal.
The animals were identified as a female adult and female pup of the year. Without genetic testing, determining if they were eastern coyotes or threatened Algonquin wolves is impossible. Upon finding the two animals the hiker notified the Ontario Provincial Police, who are now investigating the incident with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Last week, the same hiker found three canids inside the park boundary shot to death. When he returned to the site several hours later, the hiker found the bodies were removed by person(s) unknown.
The hiker noted that the way the coyotes or wolves were killed is referred to as ‘rot shot’ – gunfire directed at the side of an animal, used to deliver an excruciatingly painful slow death.
“The number of animals, their ages, and the small scale of the region in which they were found indicates they were probably a family pack,” says Lesley Sampson, Founding Executive Director of Canada Watch Canada. “Coyotes and wolves are highly social, family-oriented keystone species that manage Ontario’s diverse ecosystems. The fragmenting of a coyote or wolf family can have a drastic and detrimental impact on the stability of the family structure, while disrupting the prey/predator relationships throughout their home range.”
Hunting is currently legal in 128 provincial parks, undermining the ecological integrity of these areas.
DNA tests have not yet been performed but are required to determine if the animals are to be identified as eastern coyotes or Algonquin wolves, a threatened species in Ontario.
“Such disregard and malice directed towards coyotes is not uncommon,” remarks Hannah Barron, Director Wildlife Conservation Campaigns, Earthroots. “Top predators such as coyotes and wolves are both ecologically and inherently valuable. Provincial parks should act as refuges for these animals, particularly as coyotes and wolves can be hunted or trapped year-round without bag limits or reporting across Southern Ontario.”
Coyote Watch Canada and Earthroots encourage the public to come forward and report any information they may have about these or other poaching incidents. This information can be shared anonymously with the Ministry of Natural Resources Tip Line at 1-877-TIPS MNR (847-7667) or the Ontario Provincial Police Crime Stoppers at www.crimestopperssdm.com call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Photos of live eastern coyotes, Algonquin wolves, and the two female canids killed in Awenda are available upon request.
Lesley Sampson, Executive Director, Coyote Watch Canada (905) 931-2610 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah Barron, Director, Wildlife Conservation Campaigns, Earthroots email@example.com