Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Pat Jilesen, OFA Director
Government consultations begin this week for Ontario’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. The program provides financial compensation to producers whose livestock, poultry or honey bees are damaged or killed by wildlife. New program guidelines were introduced last year that have created problems for livestock producers making claims and municipal investigators who are responsible for investigating claims.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has heard clearly that a similar program is needed for crop and horticulture producers to provide compensation for damage caused by wildlife. Crop insurance is not a sufficient tool to address this type of damage. However, this review is focused on improving the existing wildlife damage program for livestock producers.
Ontario’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program is important to livestock producers and OFA is participating in the government consultations by addressing concerns with the new guidelines. To help us deliver the most effective feedback we’re asking OFA members for help.
OFA has been working with livestock groups to address issues with Ontario’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, but we need to hear from members to learn more about your experiences with the claims process and the preventative measures you’re taking to deter predators. OFA member experiences, examples and reports will help us make our case to the government in an effort to make necessary changes. If you’ve participated in the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program or have experience managing wildlife and the costs associated with this task, we’d love to hear from you. Please share your experiences by firstname.lastname@example.org.
OFA is aware that the biggest problems facing Ontario livestock producers are the strict requirements under the new guidelines for investigators to prove that an animal was killed or injured from an eligible predator. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of producer claims that have been denied. We know it’s not the need to provide evidence of predation that Ontario livestock producers are disputing, it’s the standards of proof under the current program guidelines that are creating problems and they need to be expanded.
OFA, together with Ontario livestock groups have put together recommendations to restore producer and municipal investigator confidence in the program and will be presenting that through the government’s consultation process. In the meantime, we encourage OFA members to share their experiences to help us build our case together to make program and policy changes to make Ontario’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program more effective for everyone.