The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 667/98 (Trapping) specify the rules associated with trapping across the province. Trappers may only use trapping devices that are approved and regulated by law in Ontario. Trappers operate on registered trap lines on Crown lands and can trap on private property with the landowners’ permission. The possession and use of traps is restricted to licensed trappers and farmers in Ontario.
Relaxing cable restraint (RCR) is a live capture cable device used in other jurisdictions that is designed to hold an animal in place without causing mortality. RCRs allow for the release of non-target animals (e.g., dogs, livestock) in the event they are captured. Target animals are humanely dispatched by the licensed trapper. RCRs are not currently authorized for use in Ontario.
Several municipalities, trapping and farming organizations have asked for RCRs to be legalized in Ontario to help manage conflicts with coyotes and avoid inadvertently capturing or killing non-target species. Ontario farmers/producers often hire trappers to target and remove coyotes due to predation of livestock.
In 2012/13, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) collaborated on a research study to test the effectiveness of RCRs in capturing coyotes, and the ability to safely release non-target species and domestic pets. The research study found that RCRs were effective for the intended purpose. The detailed results of this study were published in Canadian Wildlife Biology Management in 2014 (see link below).
Ontario’s overall policy approach related to addressing conflict with wildlife, as a public resource, is to provide landowners with the tools and information to prevent and mitigate conflict and associated damage. The Strategy for Preventing and Managing Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Ontario provides overarching policy direction to address human-wildlife conflict in Ontario.
MNRF is proposing to make regulatory amendments under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to regulate the use of RCRs in Ontario, specifically:
• For use by licenced trappers and farmers,
• For use across Ontario in areas with an open trapping season for coyote/wolf, except during deer seasons in southern, central and parts of northeastern Ontario where dogs are allowed,
• For use in protection of property, and
• To define the technical specifications of the device (locking mechanism, breakaway release and cable lengths) in consideration of animal welfare and to help avoid non-target species.