Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is proposing to allow the issuance and transfer of licenses for new Train and Trial Areas where dogs are trained for hunting and competitions. This practice involves unleashing dogs into enclosures full of trapped and terrified wildlife, such as foxes and coyotes, for them to hunt and kill. While this practice has been around for a while, new Train and Trial Areas have not been approved since 1997 and were intended to be phased-out over time.
AEL Advocacy is firmly opposed to this proposal for several reasons.
These areas are often located in important habitats that animals use for migration and hibernation, such as wetlands, forests, and grasslands. The hunting activities can block the natural movement of wildlife, which can impact the survival and reproductive success of species that rely on these patterns. The animals that are killed in Train and Trial Areas may also be relied upon by other animals for survival, and the disruption of their populations can have a cascading effect on the ecosystem overall.
Another concern is the potential for increased disease transmission between captive and wild animals. Wildlife agencies across the United States have raised serious concerns about this issue, as diseases and parasites can be transferred due to the capture and transport of animals for hunting and training purposes. Diseases such as raccoon strain rabies and coyote-variant canine rabies have been transferred, along with other diseases such as canine distemper, heartworm, and parvovirus enteritis, along with various parasites, that can also be carried by captive animals such as coyotes and foxes.
But perhaps the biggest issue with Train and Trial Areas is their inherent cruelty and inhumanity. Capturing, transporting, marketing, and confining wild animals for the purpose of training domestic canines is inhumane and deprives these animals of their natural ability to flee from predators, often leading to a prolonged and painful death. Confined animals are also accustomed to being fed by humans, which can reduce their natural instincts and make them easier targets for hunters. Furthermore, animals used in Train and Trial Areas are subjected to prolonged and unavoidable pursuit, leading to chronic physiological stress and death.
For all the reasons above, AEL Advocacy has submitted a letter opposing the Ministry’s proposal and urging the province to proceed with the initial plan to phase out Train and Trial Areas. We strongly encourage all Ontarians to do the same by submitting their comments here before the deadline on May 18, 2023.