OFAH FILE: 842
For Immediate Release
Omnibus bill threatens elk restoration
M.N.R. needs to introduce elk management plan, not kill permits
On October 27, 2009, Attorney General Chris Bentley introduced Bill 212, Good Government Act, 2009, an omnibus bill that bundles together hundreds of legislative and regulatory changes impacting on a number of Ministries. Among these changes are amendments to several Acts under the Ministry of Natural Resources, including one under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA), which will enable the Minister to authorize farmers to harass, capture or kill wild elk.
While the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.) recognizes the problems that have been experienced by some farmers due to damage of local crops, and in particular, the damage done by elk to some hay crops in the Bancroft area, the O.F.A.H. cannot condone the issuance of kill permits for elk, a protected species.
Since 2001, the O.F.A.H. has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources (M.N.R.) and other conservation organizations to reintroduce elk to the province. Since that time, more than 350 wild elk were transferred from Alberta to four release sites in Ontario. The Bancroft-North Hastings herd, in particular, has grown significantly from the 100 originally released to an estimated herd of more than 500 animals, a population that is now able to sustain a carefully regulated harvest.
"The suggestion that the Minister is being given the power to authorize permits to kill elk flies in the face of the work that the O.F.A.H., the M.N.R. and dozens of volunteers and clubs have done to restore this native species to Ontario. The success of the elk reintroduction program to date has been largely due to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised by volunteers in support of the program," said Mike Reader, O.F.A.H. Executive Director. "Giving the Minister the authority to issue kill permits, in the absence an elk management recovery strategy defies belief. The strategy should include guidelines for sustaining a manageable herd, including the introduction of a carefully regulated harvest where warranted, and provide relief in those situations where elk are causing a problem for the farming community.
"The O.F.A.H. has been pushing for the introduction of an elk management plan for almost five years, and it’s too bad that it’s taken the province so long to comply. We have serious issues with the identification of elk as nuisance animals and intend to work with the agricultural community to develop a protocol to better address the issue of crop damage from elk when it occurs."
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 660 member clubs, the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario, and the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org
705-748-6324 ext 239
O.F.A.H. Communications Coordinator
705-748-6324 ext 270