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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Animal Liability Act (Manitoba)

(current to 01 September 2016)

Note Re Application of the Animal Liability Act ('ALA')

While the ALA defines an 'animal' as "any creature that is not human" [ALA 1(1)], it ovewhelmingly is intended for, and applies primarily to, livestock. Since this wild animal law guide defines farmed wild animals as domestics, the only application of ALA provisions (respecting owner and custodian liability for damage caused by the animals) would be to captive non-agricultural wild animals such as pets, or in facilities such as zoos, circuses or research laboratories.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • CIVIL LIABILITY
The full current text of the Animal Liability Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Manitoba statute website.
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In a codification of the tort law of animal-caused tort damages, the ALA provides that [ALA 2-4]:
  • "the owner of an animal is liable for damages resulting from harm that the animal causes to a person or to property";

  • the quantum of damages awarded shall be reduced "in proportion to the degree, if any, to which the fault or negligence of the plaintiff caused or contributed to the harm" ('contributory negligence');

  • "liability under this section does not depend upon the owner's knowledge of any propensity of the animal or upon any fault or negligence by the owner";

  • liability between joint tortfeasors is joint and several (this means that the whole judgment can be collected against one defendant if necessary, but that defendant has the right to recover their excess contribution against the other liable defendants);

  • this ALA statutory cause of action does not preclude other statutory or common law causes of action for animal damage (eg. nuisance), except that actions in scienter (guilty knowledge) and cattle trespass are abolished.
It is prohibited for owners or persons-in-charge of an animal to allow it to run at large, unless allowed by municipal by-law. Such a by-law does not effect the liability rules set out above, nor does it's making by the municipality attract liability to the municipality for the behaviour it allows [ALA 5].

The ALA also sets out the circumstances where a livestock owner may kill animals "worrying, injuring or killing" their livestock on their premises (not just straying into the premises), or where a court Order authorizing such destruction may be obtained. However these provisions only applies to dogs and wild boars (there is a provision allowing more species to be listed for this purpose in the Regulations, but none have been so promulgated) [ALA 6(2,3)].

While wild boars qualify as wild animals as such, it is plain from the subsequent operative provisions that it is only meant to apply to owned wild boars, and thus to farmed animals which this guide treats as domestic animals [ALA 7].

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