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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Agricultural Pests Act (Alberta)

(current to 01 August 2016)

Note Re Application of the Agricultural Pests Act ('APA')

The APA addresses 'nuisances' and 'pests' in relation to agricultural operations (which include domestic livestock operations). These can both include any "animal, bird, insect, plant or disease" declared to be a nuisance or a pest, respectively (see s.1 below) [APA 1(1),2].

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • EXTERMINATION

The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Alberta statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Prohibitions, Duties and Notices
(a) Prohibitions
(b) Duties
(c) Notices
(d) Skunks and Coyotes
3. Enforcement
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1. Overview

Where the Minister considers that an "animal, bird, insect, plant or disease is destroying or harming or is likely to destroy or harm any land, livestock or property in all or part of Alberta", it may declare them to be either a 'nuisance' or a 'pest' in all or part of Alberta [APA 2(1)].

For these purposes however, the following categories of animals (as defined in the Wildlife Act, see that module) are not included in the definition of 'animals' (ie. they are excluded from the operation of the APA): big game, birds of prey, game bird and endangered species [APA 2(1)].

At the date of writing, only wild boars 'at large' and Norway Rats are declared as pests [Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation ('PNCR Regs') 2(1,2)]. Similarly, the following are declared as nuisances [PNCR Regs 3]:
  • Bushy‑tailed wood rat
  • Columbian ground squirrel
  • Coyote
  • Deer mouse
  • English sparrow
  • European starling
  • Franklin’s ground squirrel
  • House mouse
  • Magpie
  • Meadow vole
  • Northern pocket gopher
  • Richardson’s ground squirrel
  • Rock dove
  • Skunk
  • Thirteen‑lined ground squirrel
  • horses when at large (in some wildlife management units).

2. Prohibitions, Duties and Notices

(a) Prohibitions

It is prohibited [APA 22]:
  • to "wilfully fail to use or wilfully misuse any poison, insecticide, compound, device or equipment";

  • "for propagation purposes acquire, sell, distribute or use any seed, root, tuber or other vegetable material containing a pest";

  • "import, purchase, sell or otherwise dispose of, transport, distribute or plant any infestable item that is infested or any pest" [PNCR Regs 1(1),4];

    For this purpose, an 'infestable item' means "any crop, vegetation, produce, livestock or other animal, machinery, equipment or anything else, other than land, that is capable of being infested";

  • to "purchase, keep or sell live rats" without a Ministerial permit to that effect, and such permits are only available to a "research facility or zoo or an inspector .... if the facility where the rats are to be kept meets the minimum standards required by the Minister" [PNCR Regs 11].
(b) Duties

The APA imposes a duty upon owners and occupiers of land to "control or destroy a nuisance on land the owner owns or occupier occupies" [APA 5(1)]. Additionally, where they are in control of livestock on the land they must take active measures to - with respect to the land, property and livestock - prevent the establishment of pests, control or destroy all pests, and lastly to destroy any crop, vegetation or other matter that contributes or may contribute to the maintenance or spread of a pest [APA 5(2)].

Local authorities are typically the local municipality, but where there is none then the duty falls on the Minister [APA 1(1)]. They have the duty to take active measures to prevent the establishment of, or to control or destroy, pests in the municipality" [APA 6].

Anyone having the above duties must perform them in accordance with the APA, the Wildlife Act and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act [APA 8] (see those modules).

(c) Notices

Where an APA inspector is of the "opinion that land, property or livestock contains or is likely to contain a pest or should be protected against a pest", they may issue a notice to the owner or occupant or to the person in control of the livestock "specifying the measures to be taken and the material, if any, to be used to prevent the establishment of or to control or destroy the pest", and the time they have to do that [APA 12].

(d) Skunks and Coyotes

Subject to permits and extensive regulation of methods used, skunks and coyotes may be poisoned and otherwise killed [PNCR Regs 14].


3. Enforcement

For purposes of enforcing the APA, inspectors may be appointed by the Minister or the local municipality [APA 9]. Inspectors have typical regulatory authority including that of entry, inspection and taking of specimens [APA 17] and warrant entry into dwelling places [APA 18].

Additionally the Minister may issue stop Orders to parties to prevent or stop contraventions of the Act [APA 20], and declare quarantines [PNCR Regs 7].

Lastly, there is a broad offence provision that may be used to prosecute for contraventions [APA 23].
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