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Raccoon Freedom Fighters set to rally after 'heavy handed' raid in Kawartha Lakes

'The public needs to be aware of this so we can ensure they are governing and regulating our wildlife custodians appropriately,' says organizer, noting 84 raccoons were euthanized
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File photo

Self-professed wildlife freedom fighters will come to Newmarket tomorrow to protest the province's raid on a raccoon rehabilitation facility in Kawartha Lakes.

The Racoon Freedom Fighters say they will be at the corner of Davis Drive and Yonge Street on March 10 as part of a tour of Ontario municipalities. The group has held demonstrations throughout the province over the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) raid of Mally’s Third Chance Raccoon Rescue and Rehabilitation.

The raid led to dozens of charges against the facility and the ministry euthanizing 84 raccoons, but the rescue facility plans to fight the charges in court and supporters have pushed back on the allegations.

Organizer Tami Genge, who has previously volunteered for the facility, said she and other supporters hope public outreach can lead to a change in the ministry.

“The public needs to be aware of this so we can ensure they are governing and regulating our wildlife custodians appropriately,” she said. “Because they were very heavy handed and more interested in enforcement than in support.” 

The MNRF raided the rehab facility last September, with more than 50 conservation officers taking part, according to the Canadian Press. Officers seized 96 raccoons and alleged the rescue was violating rules with improper logbooks, trying to rehabilitate raccoons that had no chance of surviving, keeping animals more than 12 months and failing to euthanize those with distemper symptoms, an infectious disease fatal to raccoons.

The MNRF also stated the organization was generally mistreating raccoons and testing revealed all the raccoons had distemper.

Mally’s has defended itself and noted the charges are regulatory infractions, not for animal abuse or neglect. It also said that every raccoon had been double-vaccinated for distemper and seriously questioned the idea that all the raccoons could have been infected.

Genge said the raid seemed improper and the ministry could have worked with the facility with a site visit. She said the ministry had time, with the complaint they received dating back to December 2022.

“Why did they need to spend 50 plus officers?” she questioned. “It was just so unnecessary, and I think it was just to flex their muscles.” 

The support group plans to continue organizing protests and demonstrations to demand change at the MNRF.

“We can be more outspoken and demand change. This cannot keep continuing like this,” she said. “Eventually, it will have to be a legislative battle.” 

The Newmarket demonstration will take place at the plaza parking lot at 20 Davis Dr. at noon on Sunday. 

-With files from the Canadian Press


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Joseph Quigley

About the Author: Joseph Quigley

Joseph is the municipal reporter for NewmarketToday.
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