The Short Hills Wildlife Alliance is running a radio campaign from October 27 to November 3, 2018. The ad asks the Premier to end the hunt in Short Hills.
How You Can Help
Please contact Premier Ford and Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Rod Phillips and tell them provincial parks should be protected areas free from hunting.
Premier Doug Ford
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Minister Rod Phillips
Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks
77 Wellesley St. W
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
Toronto, ON M7A 2T5
Short Hills Provincial Park is situated in the Regional Municipality of Niagara. It is 735 hectares in size making it the smallest provincial park in Ontario. Its features include part of the Niagara Escarpment, representative northern Carolinian forests and the Fonthill Kame Moraine.
The park used to provide sanctuary from hunters who kill deer in areas surrounding the park. Sadly, in 2013, the Ontario government opened up the park to the first ever deer hunt. Deer mothers lost their young and dependent fawns were orphaned. Six hunts have occurred since the first hunt began.
When is the hunt?
The hunt takes place in Short Hills Park and runs for a total of 6 days:
November 3 and 4
November 17 and 18
November 29 and 30
Cost of the hunt to date
Freedom of Information (FOI) documents show that the hunt has cost Ontario taxpayers approximately $300,000 dollars over the five years since the hunt started in 2013. Costs include salaries, food, and accommodation of Ministry staff present during the hunt, the use of 35 to 50 Ministry vehicles to patrol access points to the park and the park boundary on each day of the hunt, the cost of staff to drive the four ATVs to move the dead deer from the kill zone to the area in the park where the hunter trucks are left, the presence of a park biologist and two assistants to examine the dead deer, the cost of preparation for the hunt including marking different zones in the park and clean up after each two day hunt.
In contrast, the operating budget for Short Hills Provincial Park is $25,800 for the entire year. The budget for the six day hunts either equaled or substantially exceeded the yearly operating park budget.
Cost of each deer based on total cost of the hunt
A total of 185 deer have been killed since the hunt started which means the cost of each deer is $1,600 per animal.
Ministry’s “hosting” of the hunt drives up costs to taxpayers
Ministry staff are present in the park for all six days of the hunt. Staff to operate three to four ATVs which transport the dead deer from the kill zones to the hunters’ trucks parked deep in the park. The Ministry also has a park biologist and two assistants to examine the dead deer and collect such data as age, sex, weight and health. The Deer Herd Reduction data sheet shows that the deer herd is healthy.
Orphaned and wounded deer
Orphaned fawns and wounded deer highlight the cruelty of the Short Hills hunt. Dependent fawns who were still nursing were orphaned when their mothers were shot and killed. No-one knows what happened to these young animals. Did they survive or did they die from predation or starvation?
Also the Ministry did not track or count wounded deer. This was confirmed in an e-mail from Ministry staff. Four wounded deer were found dead just at the end of the hunt. One fawn was found in the water. Two bucks were located on the hill above the Boy Scout camp and an additional dead doe was reported by a hiker.
Information uncovered through FOI requests, show that members of the public have been in the park during each hunt, including cyclists, dog walkers, dirt bike riders, woman cutting Christmas tree branches and a man releasing rabbits. The FOI material shows that the Ministry failed to follow the protocol which requires the hunt to stop until people are safely removed from the park.
For safety reasons, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and Regulations requires that hunters in provincial parks must keep their bows and arrows encased until they reach their hunting site (Part XIV, s. 106(2)). This regulation has not been enforced by Ministry staff despite repeated complaints about the violation.
Concerns about the Park’s environment
During the hunt days, the hunters are allowed to drive their vehicles, up to 35 or 40 in a day, into a vehicle prohibited area of the park. The road into the park and the weigh-in station show substantial damage from truck tires.
In addition, Ministry staff used three to four ATVs to transport dead deer from the kill site to the hunter vehicles causing considerable damage to fragile trails and off trail areas. Damage includes deep ruts, tree root exposure, damage to vegetation and riparian edges of river banks which remain today.
Short Hills Provincial Park is no longer an oasis of protection for wildlife in the Niagara Region.