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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Canada National Parks Act ('CNPA')

(current to 01 May 2016)
Note Re Application of the Canada National Parks Act

The CNPA applies to Canadian national parks and national park reserves designated under it.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Canada statute website.


Table of Contents
1. National Parks and National Park Reserves
(a) General
(b) General Protections
2. Hunting, Trapping and Fishing
(a) General
(b) Specific Prohibitions
3. Fishing in National Parks and National Park Reserves
(a) General
(b) Protections
4. National Historic Sites
(a) Overview
(b) General Protections
(c) Removal and Interference with Flora and Fauna
(d) Prohibition on Release of Animals

1. National Parks and National Park Reserves

(a) General

The federal Canada National Parks Act ['CNPA'] establishes a number of national parks and national park reserves on land that is either owned by the federal government or which the host province has consented to use as a park [CNPA 5(1),6(1)]. Reserves are lands that are subject to aboriginal land claims and which may in future become full national parks [CNPA 4(2)], but with some exceptions for aboriginal use they are subject to the same laws as full national parks [CNPA 39].

(b) General Protections

A variety of animal-protective provisions apply within national parks and national park reserves:
  • Management Plans

    Parks and park reserves are subject to management plans established by the Minister of the Environment which "contain() a long-term ecological vision for the park, a set of ecological integrity objectives and indicators and provisions for resource protection and restoration, zoning, visitor use, public awareness and performance evaluation" [CNPA 11(1)]. For these purposes "ecological integrity" means "a condition that is determined to be characteristic of its natural region and likely to persist, including abiotic components and the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes" [CNPA 2(1)].

  • Discharge or Deposit of Harmful Substances

    The CNPA also places a duty upon those having charge, management or control of substances discharged or deposited in a park or reserve which are "capable of degrading the natural environment (or) injuring fauna" to take reasonable measures to prevent such degradation or danger from occuring [CNPA 32(1)].

  • No Trafficking in Wild Animals

    The Canadian National Parks Act (CNPA) prohibit the trafficking of wild animals, "whether living or dead, at any developmental stage, in any part of or any derivative of, or in any egg or embryo of, a wild animal" taken in or from a national park or national park reserve [CNPA 25(1), 26(1)(b,c) and (3)(b,c)]. For this purposes, 'traffic' "means to sell, offer for sale, expose for sale, buy, offer to buy, solicit, barter, exchange, give, send, transport or deliver" [CNPA 25(3)].

  • No Possession or Hunting of Wild Animals

    In the case of the following listed CNPA protected species [CNPA Sched 3, parts 1 and 2], 'possession' and 'hunting' of CNPA protected species in a park is also prohibited [CNPA s.26(1)(a,b) and (3)(a,b)]. Penalty levels are higher for offences involving CNPA protected species [CNPA s.26(2,4)]. For these purposes, 'hunt' means "to kill, injure, seize, capture or trap, or to attempt to do so, and includes to pursue, stalk, track, search for, lie in wait for or shoot at for any of those purposes", and 'possess' means "includes knowingly having any thing in any place, whether or not that place belongs to or is occupied by the person, for his or her own use or benefit or for that of another person" [CNPA 26(5)].

  • Removal or Interference with Fauna

    Subject to removal from the park (with a one-year ban on re-entry), no person shall unreasonably interfere with fauna in a park [CNPA National Parks General Regulations ('NPG Regs') 32(1)(c),(2,3)].

  • Closure of Areas to Protect Fauna

    Where the park superintendent deems it necessary "for the prevention of any seasonal or temporary danger to ... fauna", they may by notice "close to public use or traffic any area in the Park for the period he considers the danger will continue" [NPG Regs 36(1)].

  • Domestic Animals in Parks

    Under the CNPA National Parks of Canada Domestic Animals Regulations ('CDA Regs') it is prohibited to bring into or keep in a park or park reserve a domestic animal "that has an infectious disease or a disease that is dangerous to humans, other domestic animals or wildlife in the park" [CDA Regs 3.1]. Similarly, anyone who brings into or keeps in a park or park reserve a domestic animal shall have the animal under physical control at all times and shall ensure that the animal does not chase, molest, bite, injure, or become a nuisance or cause unreasonable disturbance to any wildlife [CDA Regs 5]. Domestic animals in violation of these provisions may be ordered removed, impounded and - in some circumstances - destroyed by the superintendent [CDA Regs 8,9]. For these purposes 'domestic animal' means "an animal of a species of vertebrates that has been domesticated by humans so as to live and breed in a tame condition and depend on humankind for survival" [CDA Regs 1].

  • possessing any wildlife in certain parks (as designated in NPW Regs 4) without appropriate license or permit is prohibited;

  • possession of wildlife is prohibited except under authorization of the superintendent for "removal, relocation or destruction of wildlife for scientific purposes or park management purposes" [NPW Regs 4(5)];

  • it is prohibited to disturb or destroy a nest, lair, den or beaver house or dam in a park;

  • it i prohibited to touch or feed wildlife in a park or entice wildlife that is in a park to approach by holding out or setting out decoys or any such devices, foodstuffs or bait of any kind;

  • it is prohibited to release any exotic wildlife within a park;

  • no person shall possess any poison, poisonous substance, gas, narcotic or drug that can be used for the purpose of capturing, injuring or killing wildlife [NPW Regs 23].
A park or park reserve superintendent may authorize [NPW Regs 15(1)]:
  • the removal, relocation or destruction of wildlife for scientific purposes or park management purposes;

  • the sale or public disposal of wildlife or wildlife products from a park; and

  • the introduction into a park of wildlife that is indigenous or was formerly indigenous to the park.

2. Hunting, Trapping and Fishing

(a) General

For the purposes of the CNPA National Parks Wildlife Regulations ('NPW Regs'), 'wildlife' "means all wild mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, insects and other invertebrates and any part thereof, and includes their eggs and young" [NPW Regs 2]. This regulation prohibits the following activities within national parks and reserves [NPW Regs 4(1)]:
  • hunting, disturbing, holding in captivity or destroying any wildlife within, or removing any wildlife from, a park;

    For these purposes:

    • 'hunt' "means to trap, chase, pursue, worry, follow after or on the trail of, search for, shoot at, stalk, lie in wait for, or to attempt, in any manner, to capture, kill or injure any wildlife whether or not the wildlife is captured, killed or injured" [NPW Regs 2];

    • 'trap' (as a noun) "means a structure, contrivance or device that is capable of capturing wildlife by affording entrance but not exit, and includes a snare".
(b) Specific Prohibitions

Specific hunting-related prohibitions applicable to wildlife in national parks and national park reserves include [NPW Regs 4(1)]:
  • jacklighting is the practice of using lights at night to attract animals for hunting. To prevent this practice "no person shall shine a movable light having a voltage greater than 4.5 volts in any area frequented by wildlife between sunset and sunrise" [NPW Regs 4(2)];

  • no person shall by radio, telephone, walkie-talkie or any other means communicate the location of wildlife within a park to any other person within or outside a park if either of the persons is hunting [NPW Regs 24].

3. Fishing in National Parks and National Park Reserves

(a) General

Fishing regulations (ie permits, catch limits etc) governing National Parks and Park Reserves are set out in detail in the National Parks of Canada Fishing Regulations ('F Regs'). Generally, the only fishing method allowed to be used in the parks and park reserves is angling [F Regs 15(1)].

(b) Protections

The following protective provisions apply to fish and fishing in national parks and national parl reserves:
  • Possession of Live Eggs or Live Minnows

    Possession of live fish eggs or live minnows in a park or park reserve is prohibited [F Regs 24(1)]. This provision is meant to limit the types of bait used for fishing but could also apply to someone taking live eggs from the park.

  • No Trafficking

    Unless authorized by a superintendent, no person shall sell, offer for sale, trade or barter any fish caught in park waters [F Regs 30].

  • Harassment, Disturbing Etc re Fish

    No person shall harass, disturb or chase, or attempt to harass, disturb or chase fish in park waters by throwing stones or by any means other than fishing [F Regs 31.1].

4. National Historic Sites

(a) Overview

Under the authority of the Canadian National Parks Act (CNPA) the federal government has established numerous National Historic Sites [CNPA 42].

Below are several animal-protective provisions that apply within National Historic Sites. For these purposes [CNPA National Historic Parks Wildlife and Domestic Animals Regulations 2 ('NHPWDA Regs')]:
  • 'wildlife' means "all wild mammals, amphibians, reptiles and wild birds and includes any part of such mammal, amphibian, reptile or bird, including their eggs or young";

  • 'domestic animal' means "an animal of a species of vertebrates that has been domesticated by man so as to live and breed in a tame condition and depend on man for survival";

  • 'exotic wildlife' means all wildlife that is not indigenous to a park
(b) General Protections

It is prohibited in historic parks for anyone except the Park superintendent to, without a permit issued by the Park superintendent [NHPWDA Regs 4,7]:
  • disturb, hunt, capture or destroy any wildlife within a Park;

  • possess, or have possessed on their behalf by a servant or agent or any other person, any wildlife killed or procured within a Park;

  • possess within a Park any wildlife during a closed season for that wildlife, such closed season established for the Province in which the wildlife was captured or killed, or under the Migratory Birds Convention Act; or

  • to touch or feed wildlife in a Park or entice wildlife to approach by holding out food-stuffs or bait of any kind;

  • use any poison, poisonous substance, gas or drug for the purpose of capturing, injuring or destroying wildlife, or have in his possession any poison, poisonous substance, gas, or drug that may be used for such purpose [peace officers excepted].
The superintendent-issued permits referred to above may authorize exceptions to these prohibitions for [NHPWDA Regs 5]:
  • the taking or killing of wildlife within a Park for scientific purposes;

  • the sale or other public disposal of wildlife products from a Park; and

  • the relocation or destruction of wildlife when he considers it necessary for Park management purposes.
(c) Removal and Interference with Flora and Fauna

It is further prohibited to "remove, deface, damage or destroy flora, fauna or natural objects in a [historic] Park" or to "carry out any action that unreasonably interferes with fauna or the natural beauty of the Park" [CNPA National Historic Park General Regulation 4(1),36(1) ('NHPG Regs')]. For this purpose, 'fauna' means "all vertebrates or invertebrates, living or dead, or parts thereof and includes the eggs or young of fauna but does not include the fossil remains of any fauna" [NHPG Regs 2].

(d) Prohibition on Release of Animals

It is also prohibited to release into an historic park, without the authorization of the Director of Parks Canada, any wildlife, exotic wildlife or domestic animal [NHPG Regs 9].

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