A contest that rewarded hunters for killing coyotes is at the centre of a lawsuit.
Chesher’s Outdoor Store held a contest through the month of February over the past decade, awarding prize money in a variety of categories related to the weight of coyotes that were killed.
In 2021, the Ministry of Natural Resources made the store remove two prize categories, one for the ‘most’ coyotes killed, as well as prize amounts per coyote, since it constituted a type of bounty.
Animal rights lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell says the entire contest is in violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
“Section 11 makes it clear that you cannot hunt for gain, you cannot attempt to hunt for gain, you cannot induce others to hunt for gain, you cannot pay a bounty. These are all things that happen in the contest,” said Mitchel.
In early 2022, a lawsuit was filed against the minister by animal rights group ‘Animal Justice’ saying that, because the contest was unlawful, the ministry effectively ‘authorized’ it when they told Chesher’s to remove the two prize sections, but allowed them to continue with the other incentives.
“What happened is the minister, through staff, told the store it’s okay to go ahead with the contest as long as you take out those two prizes, go forth,” said Mitchell.
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The Crown argued that the ‘go-ahead’ was never given in writing, and the law states *written* authorization needs to be given.
Mitchell says that the minister ‘should’ have put in writing whether the contest was authorized or not and by failing to do so, gave an implied green light to the remaining coyote hunting incentives.
“If the minister was going to give them the green light, then the Minister had to do it in writing, as required under the statute,” said Mitchell.
Neither Chesher’s Outdoor Store nor the minister’s office provided a comment on the lawsuit.
The court will make a decision in the case — expected to take at least a month.