Your Wildlife Habitat

Endangered Species Act


Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) came into effect in June 2008, replacing an outdated 1971 version. It takes a scientific approach to listing species at risk and protecting their habitat. There is some flexibility in the ESA, such as permits and agreements that help address some of the economic concerns. The goal is to work towards the recovery of each species at risk until it is de-listed.

Naturally, some rural landowners will have concerns that they won’t be able to work their land because of restrictions imposed by the ESA.  This is not the intention of the ESA, since farming and forestry are mainstays of the rural Ontario economy. The Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program actually offers financial incentives to farmers who protect and restore habitats for species at risk on their properties. The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program offers up to 100% property tax reduction on parts of your property that are deserving habitat protection.

Wildlife and its habitat are being lost at a faster pace than at any other time in history. There are currently over 180 species at risk in Ontario. Take some time to read the list of species at risk and learn which ones you might find in your area. If you find any on your property, read this overview of the Endangered Species Act to find out if some habitat on your property needs to be protected.

For specific details, read the entire Endangered Species Act 2007.

Regulations for Protecting Your Property from Wildlife

If you believe that animals are damaging or are about to damage your property you do have some rights, but you should first learn what the regulations permit because the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act provides some protection for animals too. In general, you can capture, kill or harass animals to prevent them from harming your property, with a few exceptions:

  • You may not capture, kill or harass a moose, caribou or elk.
  • You may not capture, kill or harass a white-tailed deer, unless you are in possession of a Deer Removal Permit issued by MNRF.
  • You may not damage or destroy the dens of furbearing mammals unless you are a licensed trapper. This rule does not apply to the dens of foxes or skunks.
  • You may not destroy or take the nests of eggs of wild birds, except for American crows, brown-headed cowbirds, common grackles, house sparrows, red-winged blackbirds or starlings.
  • You may not capture, kill or harass endangered species.
  • You may not cause unnecessary suffering to any wildlife.

Any animal captured must be released humanely within 24 hours, unless you kill it humanely. It must be released within one kilometre from where it was captured unless otherwise directed by MNRF. If it is injured, sick or immature it must be turned over to a vet or some other authorized wildlife custodian. It is illegal to keep wild animals without a license.

If you hire someone to deal with problem wildlife on your property, this person must be authorized by MNRF. Those authorized include:

  • A licensed trapper
  • An employee of the OSPCA
  • A member of your immediate family
  • A person whose main business is problem wildlife removal
  • Municipal employees whose responsibility is wildlife control

Other people may act as agents but will require individualized authorization available through your local MNRF office.

For a more detailed overview of this section of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, please read Section 31: Ontario’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act. For migratory birds please see Permits Respecting Birds Causing Damage or Danger under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.