Government responds to questions raised in blog about animal deaths

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has responded to questions raised by The Fur-Bearers in our blog last week, “Rare animals killed in Ontario should be more than anecdotes in media.”

Here’s what they said:

Q: Verification that trapping/killing of a wolverine is not against regulations in Ontario.

  • Ontario’s Endangered Species Act includes a prohibition against harming, harassing, or killing a species listed as threatened or endangered (which includes wolverine). However there is an exemption in O.reg. 242/08 for incidentally trapping species at risk, so long as the person was trapping under an approved FWCA licence, following the trapping regulations, and was exercising due diligence (e.g. using approved traps, or not targeting the SAR). Depending on the scenario, certain conditions relating to incidentally trapped animals will apply.
  • In this instance, since the wolverine was killed and wolverine is listed as a furbearing mammal, the trapper would have to obtain a licence to possess the pelt through the FWCA (if they plan on keeping it). If the trapper does not want to keep the animal, they can give it to the MNRF or to an educational organization as defined in s23.15 of O. Reg. 242/08.
  • The rules are a bit different in situations where the trapped animal is not a fur bearing mammal. In those instances, they would have to register the incidental trap through the registry.

Q: Is there a penalty for killing a threatened species in a trap? If no, why not? How many at-risk, threatened, or endangered species are killed in traps in Ontario every year? What is the government doing to prevent such trap-related injuries and deaths?

  • Ontario’s Endangered Species Act includes a prohibition against harming, harassing, or killing a species listed as threatened or endangered (which includes wolverine). However there is an exemption in O.reg. 242/08 for incidentally trapping species at risk, so long as the person was trapping under an approved FWCA licence, following the trapping regulations, and was exercising due diligence (e.g. using approved traps, or not targeting the SAR). Given that this exemption only applies to licensed trappers who are exercising all due diligence to avoid trapping a species at risk, and also does not allow the sale of species at risk, incidental trapping is expected to have a minimal impact on species protection and recovery.
  • The exemption requires the trapper to notify the ministry if they have incidentally trapped a species at risk either through the registry or by obtaining a permit to possess a pelt. These notifications allow the ministry to monitor incidentally caught wildlife, and through the information obtained promote the use of best management practices to avoid trapping species at risk. The occurrences of species at risk being incidentally killed by traps are very low.
  • Trapping in Ontario is regulated through the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Regulations made under this Act limit the types of traps that can be used in Ontario. The traps certified for use in Ontario have met the Agreement of International Humane Trapping Standards, and are designed for trapping specific species. In situations where there is an increased likelihood of incidentally trapping of a species at risk, the ministry works with trappers to ensure awareness and explore options to reduce incidents.

Q: Was a necropsy performed on the endangered cougar to determine cause of death?

  • A necropsy will be performed. Hopefully it will determine cause of death

Q: What is the significance of a cougar, rarely seen, being spotted in the northwest part of Ontario (as opposed to the farther northern reaches they’re believed to inhabit)?

  • There isn’t any special significance other than it’s extremely rare to see a cougar let alone have a possible corpse.

The above statements were not edited by The Fur-Bearers, and have been reproduced exactly from the original message. The Ministry responded to our questions within a reasonable timeline, with clear information, and little political spin.

But their responses do highlight that policies exist to protect trappers, as they are unable to completely prevent at-risk, threatened, or endangered animals from being killed as part of their inherently inhumane trade. This is just one more reason why we must learn to co-exist with wildlife, and #MakeFurHistory.


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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