Area of Law: Animals and the Law
Answer # 4040
Hunters on your propertyRegion: Ontario Answer # 4040
“No Hunting” signs marking systems
All property owners in Ontario have the right to keep hunters off their property. One way to do this is by putting signs around the property indicating that hunting is not permitted. The signs must be posted in a particular way, as set out in the Trespass to Property Act. Signs posted on the property must be clearly visible in daylight under normal conditions from the approach to each ordinary point of access to the premises. You could use signs that have the word “hunting” written on them or show a graphic representation of someone hunting and then put an oblique line through the word or the picture.
It is important that whatever sign you post clearly communicates your intentions. For example, posting a “No Hunting” sign indicates only hunters are not allowed on your property and may lead to the perception that fishing or other activities are allowed. Posting a general “No Trespassing” sign indicates that no one is allowed (unless given specific permission).
Instead of signs, you could use a marking system to notify hunters that hunting on your property is prohibited. The Trespass to Property Act provides for the use of red or yellow markings that are made and posted, provided they are of sufficient size that a circle which is 10 centimetres in diameter could fit wholly inside the marking. The markings must be clearly visible in daylight under normal conditions from the approach to each ordinary point of access to your property.
Red markings mean that entry on the premises is prohibited. Yellow markings mean that entry on the premises is prohibited except for the purpose of certain activities. Where a yellow marking is used, signage could be also be used to indicate what is specifically allowed, so that the party seeking to use your land understands exactly which activities are included in the exemptions.
To ensure that the markings you use are correct, you should seek legal advice or contact the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF) which oversees hunting. You can also contact the Ministry of the Attorney General, which administers the Trespass to Property Act.
Prohibited entry without notice
Even where no notice is given to prevent entry, it can still be prohibited where the property is a garden, field, or other land under cultivation, or where trees have been planted but have not grown to an average height of more than 2 metres, woodlots on primarily agricultural lands, and lands that are enclosed indicating an intention to keeping trespassers and animals off the premises.
Hunting dogs on your property
Often, hunters use their dogs to go on ahead of them and flush the hunted animals out. Even in the case where it is not hunters themselves but their dogs that enter your property, this may also be considered trespassing.
Taking action against a trespasser
In the case where a hunter or a hunter’s dog is on your property, you can contact the police or a NDMNRF conservation officer. If you have posted proper signs or markings on your property, you, a person authorized by you, or a police officer can arrest the trespasser without a warrant. However, anyone making an arrest who is not a police officer must promptly call for the assistance of a police officer.
If the person has trespassed and has since left the premises, only a police officer can go after them and make the arrest. Penalties for violating the Trespass to Property Act include fines and damage awards.
The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry regulates hunting, trapping and other uses of wild animals in Ontario. Its authority is set out in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. This Act provides that when hunting, the hunter must not violate the Trespass to Property Act. Violators of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act may be ordered to pay a fine, or go to prison.
For more information and to view the regulations regarding hunters on your property, visit our Links.
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