Cheshers Outdoor Store

Coyote-killing contest prompts action from Ontario wildlife organizations

A hunting store in Belleville is holding a coyote-killing contest throughout the month of February and awarding prizes to the winners, and Ontario wildlife organizations are trying to put a stop to it. 

Chesher's Outdoor Store announced the contest in a Facebook post back in mid-January, encouraging hunters to sign up before the Jan. 30 deadline so they could be eligible for payouts and prizes. 

The original post indicated that there would be prizes for hunters who killed the biggest coyotes, the smallest, the highest number of them, as well as a prize per coyote, but they later updated the post to explain that they consulted with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and had to cancel the latter two categories as they were determined to be promoting a bounty. 

Still, the store said the ministry gave them the go-ahead to award 11 prizes to individuals who shoot the 10 largest coyotes as well as the smallest, which would likely be a pup that was recently born.

"All MNR applicable hunting reg's will apply as well as any provincial /federal or municipal laws with the respect to hunting coyotes," reads the post.

But Earthroots, a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to protecting Ontario's wildlife, says section 11 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act forbids anyone from hunting for expectation of gain or inducing anyone else to hunt for gain, and they're demanding that the ministry put a stop to the contest they're calling "barbaric and ecologically harmful."

"Why did the Ministry consult with the contest organizers, instruct them to change a couple of the prizes, and allow the contest to go ahead despite obvious contravention of s. 11(1) a & b?" reads an Earthroots statement about the contest

"The people who entered the contest for the chance to win cash, guns and other hunting accessories are very clearly hunting for the expectation of gain. They will spend all of February shooting coyotes and bringing the carcasses to the hunting store staff to be weighed, hoping they will win a prize. In fact, they want so badly to win a prize that they pay the store $20 just to enter."

Earthroots says the contest also jeopardizes threatened Algonquin wolves, which cannot be visually differentiated from coyotes, since the store set no geographic boundaries for the contest. 

"Algonquin wolves are normally bigger than eastern coyotes, so hunters who bring in dead Algonquin wolves can be rewarded with cash and prizes for killing a species at risk," reads an Earthroots web page encouraging members of the public to email the ministry and call for the contest to be halted. 

So far, individuals have sent 4,596 emails through the Earthroots form, and other organizations including the Toronto Widlife Centre have also spoken out against the contest in recent days. 

Chesher's Outdoor Store did not respond to blogTO's request for comment, but they did write on Facebook that "the main purpose of this event is to help control the predators that threaten our deer population and have some fun doing it."

What exactly is "fun" about killing beautiful and innocent creatures, however, is anybody's guess. 

Lead photo by

CJ Burnell

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