Deb Swidrovich is accustomed to hearing hunters’ gunshots in the middle of the night around her northwestern Waterloo home, despite bylaws in the municipality that prohibit the firing of guns and bows within city limits.
But she was taken aback last week when encountered two severed deer heads mounted on a tree and a fence post along Conservation Drive near Wilmot Line close to her property. One of the heads was strapped to the post with an electrical cord.
“I used to hunt, so seeing a dead deer isn't anything that would turn my stomach,” said Swidrovich.
“But this did because of the way the animal was treated after it was killed. [It] was to me a clear message that somebody wanted me to know that they were hunting in this area and they would continue to hunt.”
Hunting is permitted in Wilmot Township, which is immediately to the west of Wilmot Line near her home.
Swidrovich and her husband have made attempts to stop the hunting in the area, from reporting license plates on suspected trucks to confronting hunters with loaded guns. On one occasion, a hunter shot a gun above her husband’s head, just behind their property.
“I'm not against hunters,” Swidrovich said. “I'm against hunters who have a blatant disregard for the law and really a disregard for the safety of the people who live in that area.”
Swidrovich has made calls to the Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Ministry of Natural Resources when she hears or sees hunters in Schaefer’s Woods, an environmentally sensitive area in Waterloo. She said she heard that hunters have to be caught in the act, in order for charges to be laid. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
“[The police] have come out, now they also tell us when I hear shots even on the Wilmot side of the road, that they will not come out when it is dark,” said Swidrovich. “We often hear shots at one or two in the morning. They won't send in dogs too because it is a safety issue for them.
Waterloo Regional Police Service has not yet responded to a call for comment.
Poaching can be reported to the Ministry of Natural Resources Tips line: 1-877-TIPS-MNR or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.