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Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources strong-arm tactics and regressive regulations leaves wildlife rehabilitation and orphaned wildlife in the cold!

Anonymous attack on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary mirrors the Ministry’s hostility to wildlife rehabilitation.

Friday October 15, 2004:  The Ontario Wildlife Coalition vigorously opposes the recent scurrilous attack on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.  Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is accused of putting wildlife in peril, people at risk and blatantly breaking Ministry of Natural Resources regulations. The attack has taken place as the Ministry continues with its unprecedented attack on wildlife rehabilitators.

The Ministry’s unwarranted attack on Ontario’s wildlife rehabilitators:

“It is the Ministry’s own regressive regulations that have put wildlife in peril and people at risk.” said Donna DuBreuil, President, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre. “The inhumane regulations force rehabilitators to raise orphaned wild mammals in isolation of others of their own species.  The Ministry requires rehabilitated orphans are to be released within one kilometer of where they were rescued, no matter how busy or inappropriate. Finally, the Ministry prohibits rehabilitators from caring for rabies vector species such as raccoons, skunks and foxes in certain areas, driving the care of these animals underground.”

 “The Ministry has been extremely confrontational and aggressive in its unilateral decree about the killing of orphaned and injured wildlife.” said Barry MacKay, Canadian representative for the Animal Protection Institute.  “In doing so, it has revealed its arrogance to municipalities who are searching for humane and cost efficient solutions to human wildlife conflicts.  It has demonstrated its disdain for rehabilitation through its persistent attacks on rehabilitators and it has highlighted its hypocritical position through its failure to license and control wildlife removal companies.” 

The Ministry’s drive for excessive funds for rabies research:

“It is widely recognized that the Ministry has imposed these regressive regulations to support its raccoon rabies spending.” said Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance and spokesperson for the Ontario Wildlife Coalition.  “Unjustified expansion of the high risk area and unwarranted restrictions on wildlife rehabilitation highlights the fact that the Ministry cannot attract millions of dollars for its rabies programme unless it maintains a high degree of public fear that raccoon rabies is a serious disease threat when, in fact, it is the lowest public health risk in North America.”

“Wildlife rehabilitators represent an impediment to creating this climate of fear.” continued Ms. DuBreuil.  “If baby raccoons are cared for by community volunteers with a large and visible measure of public support for this work and without the animals ever having presented any risk, it is impossible for the Ministry to portray raccoons as a major threat to public health.”

The Coalition believes that if the Ministry was really worried about the spread of rabies from wild mammals to people, it would have banned the sale of traps to the general public and imposed strict regulations on the pest control companies.  Instead the Ministry continues to target wildlife rehabilitators who provide care for wildlife and are the front line defenders of public safety.

The Ontario Wildlife Coalition intends to publicly challenge the Ministry for its extraordinary costs to fight rabies.  The Coalition will ask the Liberal government to examine excesses in the rabies programme that will result in significant cost saving measures. 

The Ontario Wildlife Coalition puts the Liberal government on notice:

1. An attack on the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is an attack on the entire wildlife rehabilitation community in Ontario.

2. Wildlife rehabilitators and animal protection organizations across Ontario remain united in their opposition to the unwarranted attack by the OMNR on the wildlife rehabilitation community.

3. The rehabilitation and animal protection community opposes any interests that deny Ontario municipalities the right to a progressive wildlife rescue and prevention programme.

The Ontario Wildlife Coalition calls upon the Ontario Liberal government to:

1. Complete an audit of the rabies programme.

2. Stop the proposed provincial funding for the research facility which will cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars to research rabies.

3. Fulfill its commitment to reviewing OMNR while reinstating widely-supported wildlife rehabilitation services. 

For further information please call Liz White at 416-462-9541 (p), 416-809-4371 (c) Donna DuBreuil at 613-282-3755 (c) and Barry MacKay at 905-472-9731 (p).


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