O.F.A.H. urges MNR to help farmers

Elk herd viability threatened by mismanagement

The indiscriminate feeding of local elk in the Bancroft area that has continued unchecked for years, and the province’s failure to introduce a comprehensive elk management plan, has placed the future of the local herd in jeopardy.

Elk have been the focus of an extensive reintroduction program that has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and involved thousands of volunteer hours.

The province’s failure to properly manage the herd, to use new regulations under the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act to eliminate the feeding of wildlife, and to allow farmers to harass the elk to protect their property has resulted  in serious damage to local farm crops and infrastructure.

This has led the Minister of Natural Resources to consider euthanizing elk in the Bancroft North Hastings area through the use of removal (kill) permits, over the objections of  the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.).

The O.F.A.H. is one of several groups who have contributed financial and volunteer support to the province to restore elk to Ontario, where they lived for thousands of years before becoming locally extinct in the 1800’s.

O.F.A.H. staff  have travelled to the area and met with local farmers, who are faced with broken fences, cattle escapes and crop damage, but are forbidden under the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act from using bang sticks, dogs or other means to harass  the elk and protect their livelihood.

“For over two years, the O.F.A.H. has been urging the MNR to adopt a comprehensive elk management strategy to properly manage elk herds across the province, including the Bancroft herd which is estimated at 500 or more,” said O.F.A.H.

President Rob Hare. “The province’s failure to act, coupled with the lack of available options for local farmers who are forced to sit and watch their farm property, crops and livestock be damaged, is unconscionable.

The use of bang sticks, dogs and other harassment techniques should be part of a management strategy, which the province has failed to adopt despite years of discussion.

Any suggestion that healthy elk be indiscriminately euthanized  threatens the viability of the elk restoration effort.”

The O.F.A.H. supports the position of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), which has been lobbying the province to address the situation for some time. Both organizations have urged the MNR to convene a meeting with all affected  parties before it reached crisis proportions. Unfortunately, the Ministry has been slow to act, and the situation has escalated to the point where farmers’ tolerance for the nuisance elk situation has been exhausted.

The O.F.A.H. and OFA  recommend that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the MNR develop a compensation package for farmers in the Bancroft area who have experienced losses due to elk.

“As the agency charged with the responsibility for managing wildlife in Ontario, surely the MNR can do better than suggesting that elk, which have been the focus of the restoration effort, should simply be eliminated,” added Hare.

“Why should the program and the animals themselves pay the ultimate price for MNR mismanagement and inaction?”

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.

About Peter Wood 1194 Articles
As an avid lifelong angler and hunter, Peter’s outdoor knowledge and experiences keep expanding through his hundreds of hours of hunting and fishing podcast interviews with like minded experts. He has received numerous national writing awards. With thousands of outdoor pictures on Ripple Outdoors and many full-length articles with outdoor magazine and video clips you might say that he not only enjoys his outdoor lifestyle, but he’s quite the fanatic! In 2015 he earned fifth overall on the King of the Wood Contest hosted by Canada In The Rough team, pretty good for a baby boomer deer hunter. His buck was also one of the top bucks taken that season. Through Peter’s deer hunting seminars or by attending outdoor trade shows, like the Toronto Sportsmen Show and The SWOC Big Buck Show, he has connected with thousands of like minded people that love hunting and fishing. As a volunteer or member of local and national outdoor groups like QDMA, SWOC, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Archery Trade Show Association he continues to learn and hone his craft. Read his many articles, listen to his podcasts and rifle through thousands of photos on Ripple Outdoors. Discover Peter’s latest posts about outdoor gear, destinations, how to articles and interviews and you’ll be a better angler and hunter for the experience.

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