The province has come under attack by many Ontarians who are criticizing the provincial government of Doug Ford for backtracking on a decision to phase out train and trial facilities.
The facilities allow dogs to track down captive wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, and rabbits in massive fenced-in pens.
In 1997, the Ontario government decided to stop granting licences for new train and trial areas and gradually phase out any existing operations as owners retired or left the business but the government seems to have changed its mind. It is now allowing the transfer of licences and issuing new ones for which it has come under attack by constituents of Parry Sound-Muskoka as well as former conservation officers and animal rights activists who refer to the train and trial facilities in Ontario as cruel.
Huntsville Doppler reached out to the office of area MPP and the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Graydon Smith, for comment on the issue. Below is the emailed response:
“As part of the Government’s most recent red tape reduction bill, Ontario made legislative changes to enable existing licensed train and trial facilities to operate under new ownership and to provide a limited opportunity to add new train and trial facilities in the province.
We have heard from the Canadian Kennel Club, the Ontario Sporting Dogs Association and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, who agree this legislation would help maintain opportunities for training, field trials and tests for dogs in these controlled facilities and the local economic benefit.
The safety of wildlife, dogs and people is a top priority at train and trial facilities. These are not hunting facilities. Train and trial facilities are used to train and test dogs that track wildlife by scent. It is completely incorrect to suggest that this legislation will allow animals to be harmed. These facilities prepare sporting dogs and their handlers for activities, such as tracking, safely.
All train and trial facilities must be operated responsibly and meet strict regulatory requirements, including meeting care standards for wildlife.
Regulations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) outline strict requirements including providing adequate cover for captive wildlife, minimum standards on facility size, limiting the species that may be used, restrictions on the frequency of trial activities and record keeping requirements. Regulations also prohibit the use of firearms in licensed train and trial facilities.
Conservation Officers inspect facilities and will not hesitate to issue fines to facilities that do not meet the standard of care for wildlife, as they have in the past, and they will continue in the future. Failing to comply with the FWCA can result in disciplinary action ranging from a ticket to fines of either $25,000 or $100,000, one or two years of jail time or both, and licence revocation.”
- Bill 91 schedule 14 outlines trail and trial under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. b091ra_e.pdf (ola.org)
- Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act: Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 41 (ontario.ca)
- Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act: Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019, S.O. 2019, c. 13 (ontario.ca)
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