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Simon Shields,
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Wild Animal Law of Canada

__________________________

Wildlife Act (Newfoundland)(WA)

(current to 01 May 2016)
Note Re Application of the WA

The WA applies within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. With only minor references to domestic animals, it is the province's workhorse law respecting indigenous wildlife, largely from a hunting and trapping perspective.

The WA's primary definition of 'wildlife' defines them (unhelpfully) as "wild animal, fish or bird to which this Act or the regulations apply" [WA 2(q)]. Most of the licensing and traditional hunting/trapping rules are set out in the WA's Wildlife Regulation ('WL Regs') which addresses individual species and groups of species in a piecemeal basis.

As in explained in s.6, animals in travelling circuses, while subject to the WA itself, are exempt from most - but not all - of the WL Regs, and to that extent are exempt from the WA itself [WA s.2(q)].

Similarly, captive fur farm animals ["a fur bearing animal that is maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm" (as defined in the Fur Farming Regulations made under the Animal Health and Protection Act] are not subject to the WL Regs (and to that extent, from the WA itself: WA 2(q)), but once such an animal is escaped or is released, then the WL Regs do apply to it. As well, the WL Regs do apply to "to a wild fur bearing animal that was not previously maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm and is captured in the province and subsequently maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm" ('wild-caught') [WL Regs 2.1(1-3)]. Note that for purposes of this Wild Animal legal guide, fur farm animals are considered domestic animals and so are not treated fully.

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

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. General Wildlife Prohibitions and Protection
(a) Overview
(b) Specific Prohibitions and Protections
3. Importation, Relocation and Exportation of Wildlife Restricted
(a) Export
(b) Importation and Relocation of 'Wild Animals'
4. Hunting, Trapping and Fishing
(a) Overview
(b) Fur-Bearing Animals
(c) Big Game
(d) Small Game
(e) Coyotes
(f) Inland Fishing
(g) Prohibited Methods of Hunting and Trapping
5. Depredation of Wildlife Other than Hunting, Trapping and Fishing
(a) Scientific and Conservation Purposes
(b) Nuisance Wildlife
Circuses
______________________________________


1. Overview

Newfoundland's Wildlife Act (WA), like equivalent hunting and trapping statutes in the rest of Canada, deals with the province's indigenous wildlife from a hunting, trapping, fishing and (much less so) a conservation perspective. While it contains some general protective provisions respecting wildlife [s.2], the bulk of it is devoted to the licensing, tagging, open seasons, bag limits, etc requirements of a sport hunting and fishing, and commercial trapping, regime [s.4 below].

Like most such statutes the WA relies primarily permits and licenses to regulate hunting and other use of wildlife in the province [WA s.10]. These administrative provisions are supported in enforcement by appointed wildlife officers with typical investigative and search and seizure powers [WA s.8,13-15,30], and a general offence provision [WA s.28].


2. General Wildlife Prohibitions and Protection

(a) Overview

General 'prohibitive' provisions respecting wildlife, some of which may be regarded as protective, are set out in this section. Most of them however, particularly as they involve hunting or trapping activities, are exempted under the WA's permit and license regime. It is the nature of a licensing regime that it first outlaws an activity, and then allows it for the holder of a valid license - the governmental goal being the assertion of control over the amount and manner of the activity. Here the regulated activity is overwhelmingly the taking and killing of wild animals - so do not read a general prohibition against hunting or otherwise harming an animal as being in any way an absolute protection for them.

(b) Specific Prohibitions and Protections

These provisions are:
  • No Taking Etc of Furbearing Animals Without License

    Fur-bearing animals are (exclusively) "beaver, fisher, fox, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat, otter, squirrel, weasel, wolf and wolverine" [WA s.2(d)]. A "person other than the holder of a licence issued to him or her and valid under these regulations shall not ... trap, take or kill furbearing animals" [WL Regs 17(a)] [see s.4(b) below]. Even with a license, a "person shall not hunt, trap, take or kill any furbearing animal except during the open season" for such animals [WL Regs 14(1)].

  • No Small Game Hunting Etc Without License

    'Small game' includes "ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, wild ducks, wild geese, snipe, rabbits (varying hares) and arctic hares" [WL Reg s.2(r)]. A person who is not the holder of a small game licence issued and valid under these regulations shall not hunt, take or kill small game (wild ducks, wild geese and snipe require an MBCA license; see the federal MBCA module) [WL Regs 74(1)] [see s.4(d) below].

  • No Big Game Hunting Etc Without License

    'Big game' include "bear, caribou, moose and all members of the deer family" [WL Regs s.2(d)]. A person who is not the holder of a big game licence issued to him or her and valid under these regulations shall not hunt, take or kill any big game [WL Regs 37(1)]. [see s.4(c) below].

  • Permits Required to Keep Live Wild Life

    "(E)very person in possession or control of live wild life shall, immediately upon coming into that possession or control, apply in writing to the minister for a permit to keep the live wild life in captivity" [WL Regs s.82]. However this requirement is avoided where a Ministerial license is held for "the taking or export of wild life for scientific purposes or for the purposes of propagation or for presentation to or exchange with an authority or body in another province of Canada or in another country" [WA s.7(3)].

    Note that this provision does apply to animals in travelling circuses [WL Regs 2.2(2)].

  • Dogs, Hunting and Wildlife

    Subject to licensed hunting exceptions, there is a general prohibition against a dog-owner permitting the dog to chase or harass wild life [WL Regs 40(3)]. Dogs found harassing wildlife may be destroyed by a WA wildlife officer [WL Regs s.104].

    It is fully prohibited to use dogs to hunt big game [WL Regs 40(1)]. However, dogs may be used to hunt and retrieve small game, as long as at the same time [WL Regs 40(2,4)]:

    • big game is not hunted, taken or killed; or

    • the dogs do not 'hunt, track, follow, pursue or worry big game'.

    Additionally, dogs may not be taken to a "a place frequented by wild life from April 1 to August 31 in any year" (typically, the closed season), with permit exceptions for disability service dogs and dog field trials and training [WL Regs s.102-103].

  • Use of Aircrafts and Vehicles to Hunt

    Generally, "a person shall not operate an aircraft, motor vehicle, vessel, snow machine or all-terrain vehicle in a manner that will harass any wild life" [WL Regs 106].

    More specifically [WL Regs s.105]:

    • hunting wild life from "any aircraft or any four-wheel drive motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipped with a caterpillar or track-tread, whether in motion or otherwise" is prohibited, though use of such for transportation alone is allowed;

    • using an aircraft for "locating, spotting or searching for wild life for the purposes of directing or assisting himself or herself or another person to destroy or capture the wild life" is prohibited.

  • Trafficking in Wildlife Generally Prohibited

    "A person shall not sell or purchase or attempt to sell or purchase or otherwise traffic in or have in his or her possession or under his or her control any wild life taken contrary to these regulations" [WL Regs 90] (see s.4 below for licensed trafficking).

  • Permits Required to Keep Some Bred Fur-bearing Animals for Fur Farms

    Every person in possession or control of a live furbearing animal that has been born or bred in captivity (other than mink coloured fox or arctic fox - but not including hybrid fox) and is to be maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm shall, immediately upon coming into that possession or control, apply in writing to the minister for a permit to keep the live furbearing animal in captivity" [WL Regs s.82.1].

  • Guides not to Hunt or Fish

    Guides shall not, while employed, "angle for salmon or trout in inland waters or shoot or hunt wild life" [Guides Regs ('G Regs') 14].

3. Importation, Relocation and Exportation of Wildlife Restricted

(a) Export

Without a Ministerial permit, the exportation, taking or carrying out of wildlife from the province is prohibited [WL Regs s.85]. However, the Minister may issue licenses for "the taking or export of wild life for scientific purposes or for the purposes of propagation or for presentation to or exchange with an authority or body in another province of Canada or in another country" [WA s.7(3)].

(b) Importation, Relocation and Release of 'Wild Animals'

Without written Ministerial permission [WL Regs s.83(1-4),84]:
  • a person shall not import or bring into the province any wild animal ('importation');

  • a person shall not bring into Newfoundland from Labrador any wild animal ('relocation');

  • a person shall not possess a wild animal illegally-imported or illegally-relocated as above ('possession');

  • a person shall "not release into natural cover" any wild animal illegally-imported as above, or propagated from illegally-imported stock ('release').
Note 1:
The above provisions apply to "wild animals": ie. "any live animal, including without limitation, any amphibian, arthropod, bird, coelenterate, crustacean, fish, other invertebrate, mammal, mollusk or reptile, whether or not bred, hatched or born in captivity and including any egg or offspring of them" [WL Regs s.83(2)].

Note 2:
The importation, relocation and possession provisions above do not apply to any of the extensive species listed here: Schedule B to the WL Regs.

The purpose of these provisions appears to be the prevention of interference with the ecosystem generally by the introduction of invasive exotic species, with the extensive Schedule B intended to 'grand-parent' in past-imported species already kept as house pets, exotic domestics, garden plants, etc.

Note 3:
Otherwise though, these provisions do apply to animals in travelling circuses [WL Regs 2.2(2)].


4. Hunting, Trapping and Fishing

(a) Overview

For the purposes of the WA legislative regime:
  • "hunting" includes chasing, pursuing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, or searching for or lying in wait for wild life whether or not the wild life is then or later captured, injured or killed, and "hunt" and "hunter" have a corresponding meaning" [WA 2(f)]; and

  • 'trap' means "a spring trap, gin, deadfall, snare, box or net used to capture wild life", and 'snare' means "a device for the taking of animals by which they are caught in a noose" [WA 2(n,o)]
The terms "hunt", "take", "kill" or "trap" includes an attempt to hunt, take, kill or trap [WL Regs 2(j)].

As noted above [s.2], most if not all hunting, killing and taking of wildlife must be authorized by the issuance of a license. However, even with a license these activities can only be conducted during the 'open season', and subject to the 'bag limits' for the species. Open seasons, bag limits and other such details can change as often as annually, are not located in the WA Regulations but rather are declared by the Minister [WL Regs 114]. They may be reviewed at this link: Orders under the Wildlife Act (Newfoundland and Labrador). Unless an Order expressly declares an open season for a species, then the season for it is closed and it may not be hunted [WL Regs 89].

(b) Fur-Bearing Animals

. Overview

Fur-bearing animals are "beaver, fisher, fox, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat, otter, squirrel, weasel, wolf and wolverine" [WA s.2(d)]. Hunting, trapping, taking or killing of fur-bearing animals, as well as possession of "a trap, snare or other device commonly used to take furbearing animals in any area frequented by wild life", is only allowed with a license and during the open season declared by Cabinet Order [WL Regs s.14(1,2),16,17].

. Hunting

Only licensed trappers may shoot fur-bearing animals, and then only as a manner of killing a trapped or snared animal [WL Regs s.14(3)], except that [WL Regs 14(4)]:
  • in Labrador, firearms may be used for hunting, taking and killing fur-bearing animals (this is not limited to licensed trappers);

  • in Newfoundland, the hunting, taking or killing of (coyote), fox and lynx is allowed by licensed trappers "using a center-fire rifle not greater than .225 calibre or a shotgun using shot size 2 or larger".
Hunting wolves by license is allowed. Persons who are not licensed trappers are limited to one wolf [WL Regs s.15].

Persons not holding a trapper's license may not "possess in areas frequented by wild life any trap, snare or other device commonly used to take furbearing animals" [WL Regs s.17(g)].

. Trapping and Trafficking

No person may purchase any furbearing animal, or skin or pelt thereof from anyone other than a licensed trapper [WL Regs s.17(h)]. The following activities respecting fur-bearing animals, otherwise prohibited, may be licensed [WL Regs s.10-12,15,17,21-22]:
  • trapping, excluding beavers;

  • a trapper's beaver licence or a beaver trapline (designated area) license to take or kill beaver;

  • a live animal export licence;

  • a skin or pelt exporting licence;

  • a fur dealer's store licence (for buying and selling in designated premises); or

  • a travelling fur dealer's licence (for buying and selling at any place).
Licensed trappers may not possess poison or poison ingredient while trapping [WL Regs s.19].

. Beavers

The number of beaver trapping licenses and beaver trapline licenses, the number of beaver that may be taken, as well as the areas in which trapping may be conducted, is set by Cabinet Order each year [WL Regs s.25] [see the link in 4(a) above]. It is prohibited by all persons, except with permission of the Minister, to "take away, destroy or interfere with a beaver dam, beaver house or food stored by beaver" [WL Regs s.31].

. Fur Farm Animals

While "a fur bearing animal that is maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm" (as defined in the Fur Farming Regulations made under the Animal Health and Protection Act) is not subject to the WL Regs, it is once such animal is escaped or is released. As well, the WL Regs do apply to "to a wild fur bearing animal that was not previously maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm and is captured in the province and subsequently maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm" ('wild-caught') [WL Regs 2.1(1-3)].

. Importing, Relocation or Release re Fur Farms

Without written Ministerial permission, it is prohibited to import into the province or to bring from Labrador to Newfoundland, fur-bearing animals (other than mink coloured fox or arctic fox - but not including hybrid fox) born or bred in captivity for the purpose of being "maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm". It is also prohibited to possess such illegally-brought animals [WL Regs s.83.1(1-3)].

It is prohibited to "release or permit the escape of, or attempt to release or permit the escape of, a fur bearing animal that is maintained or kept in captivity on a licensed fur farm" [WL Regs s.84.1].

(c) Big Game

. Overview

'Big game' include "bear, caribou, moose and all members of the deer family" [WL Regs s.2(d)]. "Bear" includes polar bears, which may be hunted under license in Labrador (see the applicable Order).

The Minister may issue licences to hunt moose, caribou or bear [WL Regs s.35(1)], and any hunting any big game without a licence is prohibited [WL Regs s.37(1)]. Open seasons for big game are declared by Cabinet Order [WL Regs s.38].

. Prohibitions and Protections

Several protective and prohibitive provisions also apply with respect to big game, as follows [WL Regs s.39-43,45-]:
  • a person who kills, cripples or wounds a big game animal shall immediately make all reasonable efforts to retrieve the animal;

  • dogs may not be used to hunt big game;

  • big game shall not be hunted, taken or killed during a small game hunt where dogs are used, and dogs used in such a hunt must not hunt, track, follow, pursue or worry big game;

  • dogs shall not be used to hunt, track, follow, pursue or worry big game;

  • owners of dogs shall not permit the dog to chase or harass wild life, except that dogs may be used to hunt and retrieve small game during the open seasons for that game;

  • a person shall not hunt, take, kill or molest any big game while the game is swimming;

  • jacklighting (the use of lights at night to attract animals for hunting) is prohibited;

  • hunting "one-half hour after sunset on any day ending and ending one-half hour before sunrise" is prohibited;

  • setting or using or causing to be set or used any pitfall, trap or snare for the purpose of taking or killing big game is prohibited (exception for black bear "by a person authorized to do so by the minister or his or her agent").
. Trafficking

Additionally [WL Regs s.45]:
  • "a person shall not sell or purchase, attempt to sell or purchase or otherwise traffic in a big game animal or parts of it";

  • possession of big game or parts thereof is generally prohibited except when taken as a result of a legal hunt;

  • taking, possessing or trafficking in big game or parts thereof that have been killed or injured by motor vehicles, railway trains or other accident or as a result of disease or other causes is prohibited.

    The above provisions are subject to several exemptions respecting caribou that allow the commercial hunting, wholesale sale and retail sale [WL Regs ss.46,52,58]. Moose and caribou parts may be collected, sold and used for craft purposes [WL Regs 45 (4-8)]. As well, 'wild meat' (the meat from big game) may be sold in tourist establishments if it is prepared on site [WL Regs s.64]. Skins and hides of big game may also be bought, sold and exported with appropriate licensing [WL Regs s.68].
(d) Small Game

. Overview

'Small game' includes "ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, wild ducks, wild geese, snipe, rabbits (varying hares) and arctic hares" [WL Reg s.2(r)].

Various licenses are available to take or kill, by shooting or snaring: ptarmigan, spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, rabbits (varying hares) and arctic hares [WL Regs s.71], with open seasons as specified by Cabinet Order [WL Regs s.73]. Wild ducks, wild geese and snipe may be hunted, taken or killed under permits issued under the federal Migratory Bird Conventions Act (MBCA) [WL Regs s.74(2)]. Hunting, taking or killing small game without a valid license is prohibited [WL Regs s.74(1)].

. Prohibitions and Protections

Several protective and prohibitive provisions also apply with respect to small game, as follows [WL Regs s.2(u),75(2),79,81(1,3)]:
  • it is prohibited to "take or destroy the nests or eggs of any wild birds" ("wild bird" means a bird other than a domestic bird"), except where authorized under an MBCA permit to do so (see the module on the federal MBCA); for these purposes a 'domestic bird' "includes non-native species kept in captivity but does not include native species kept in captivity or non-native species present in the wild state" [WL Regs 2(e)].

    Note that while this provision is located in the Part V 'Small Game' portion of the WL Regs, it appears to apply to all wild birds, not just game birds.

  • the use of pitfalls, traps or snares to take or kill wild birds is prohibited, except for snaring of "ptarmigan, spruce grouse and ruffed grouse" under license [see (b) above];

  • nets, fish hooks, or snares equipped with fish hooks may not be used to take or kill small game;

  • where snares or traps are used under license, they must be taken up at the end of the season;

  • it is prohibited to hunt, take, kill or possess an eagle, falcon, hawk, osprey or owl of any species without a Ministerial permit.
. Trafficking

The selling, purchasing, or offering to sell or purchase or exposing for sale of any eagle, falcon, hawk, osprey, owl, migratory game bird, migratory insectivorous bird or migratory non-game bird (for the last three categories see the federal MBCA module) is prohibited [WL Regs s.76(3),81(2)].

Various forms of trafficking in small game may be authorized by license, including [WL Regs 76]:
  • to purchase and serve small game (other than migratory birds) as cooked meals prepared on the premises of tourist establishments ('wild meat service license');

  • by hunters, to sell small game to the holder of a 'wild meat service license'
.(e) Coyotes

The taking and killing of coyotes, subject to open season and bag limits, is prohibited without a valid license. Licensed hunters may sell the coyotes or parts thereof so taken. [WL Regs s.81.1-81.3]

(f) Inland Fishing

Canada's constitution gives the federal government jurisdiction over both marine and inland fisheries, however provinces still have a limited role in regulating sport and commercial fishing in rivers, streams and fresh water lakes in conjunction with the federal Fisheries Act Regulations, here the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Regulations (SOR/78-443) under the Fisheries Act (Canada). For these regulating purposes, 'fish' means "fresh water fish and fish which run up from the sea into inland water" [WA 2(b)].

The WA regime supplements the federal regime by licensing both individuals, families and non-residents to allow for angling of salmon and trout in 'inland waters'. Such licenses and tags may be river-specific [WL Regs, s.3-8,111.1].

No one may "buy, sell, offer for sale or use for a commercial purpose fish other than smelt or eels taken in inland waters" [WL Regs s.9].

(g) Prohibited Methods of Hunting and Trapping

. Firearms

A 'firearm' is "a device by which a missile is discharged by means of an explosive propellant or by compressed air or by a spring and includes sporting guns of all calibres, automatic or autoloading guns, repeating guns, pump guns, set guns, swivel guns, punt guns, rifles, pistols and revolvers of every description, crossbows, longbows and compound bows" [WL Regs 2(f)].

The following methods of firearm hunting are generally prohibited:
  • with a "repeating, automatic or autoloading shotgun which has not been permanently plugged or altered so that it is incapable of holding of total of more than 3 shells at one time in the chamber and magazine" [WL Regs 107(6)];

  • with a "a set gun, swivel gun or the apparatus known as a silencer and for the purpose of this subsection, "set gun" means a contrivance, device or firearm capable of discharging or projecting a missile which is set to operate otherwise than in the presence of and by the direct act of user" [WL Regs 107(8)] [possession is also prohibited: 107(9)];

  • with "a fully automatic rifle" [WL Regs 107(11)];

  • with "a firearm which propels a missile by means of compressed air, compressed gas or by a spring" (bows are addressed below) [WL Regs 107(16)] (possession is also prohibited);

  • a "person shall not discharge a firearm from or across a railway, highway, public road or private road" [WL Regs 107(20)].
Except under a specific permit, the carrying of firearms and ammunition in areas "known to be frequented by wild life" during the closed season is generally prohibited. As well, even during open season only license-holders may possess firearms and ammunition in such areas [WL Regs 107(1,3,7)].

. Hunting Bows and Arrows

Cross-bows may not be used to hunt [WL Regs 108(1)]. However, long bows may be used subject to technical restrictions set out in WL Regs s.108(2-7).

Use of poisoned, drugged, barbed and explosive arrow tips - and possession thereof "in any area known to be frequented by wild life" - is prohibited [WL Regs 107(8-11)].

. Use of Poison

"Except with the written authorization of the minister or an agent of the minister, a person shall not take, kill or possess any wild life by means of poison or set, lay out, put, place, cause or permit to be set, laid out, put or placed any poison or poisonous ingredients that may endanger wild life" [WL Regs 110].


5. Depredation of Wildlife Other than Hunting, Trapping and Fishing

(a) Scientific and Conservation Purposes

With prior written Ministerial permission, a person may breach any provision of the WL Regs (they are all referenced as such in this module), but not provisions of the Wildlife Act itself (similarly referenced as 'WA'), "if it is done for scientific purposes or for the purpose of conservation of wild life" [WL Regs s.86].

The Minister may also issue licenses for "the taking or export of wild life for scientific purposes or for the purposes of propagation or for presentation to or exchange with an authority or body in another province of Canada or in another country" [WA s.7(3)].

(b) Nuisance Wildlife

With written Ministerial permission, a person may shoot or trap "(w)ild life species which are considered by the minister to be a nuisance or menace" [WL Regs s.88].


6. Circuses

'Circuses', as the term is used in the WA, are really travelling circuses: ie. a "mobile place in which animals held and exhibited are made to perform behaviours at the direction of a human handler or trainer for the entertainment or education of members of the public and excludes a dog show, a horse show and a livestock fair ('place' includes commercial or private premises, land, a container, vehicle, vessel or aircraft) [WL Regs 2.2(4)].

While circuses and animals in them are generally subject to provisions of the Wildlife Act, an "animal that is maintained or kept in captivity in a circus" is exempt from most provisions of the Wild Life Regs, at least until it "escapes or is released from a circus" [WL Regs 2.2(1,3)].

However animal in circuses are still subject to the following WL Regs 2.2(2):
  • Possession

    "(E)very person in possession or control of live wild life shall, immediately upon coming into that possession or control, apply in writing to the minister for a permit to keep the live wild life in captivity" [WL Regs 82] (see s.xxx);

  • Importation, Relocation and Release

    Written permission of the Minister is required to import wild animals into the province, to relocate a wild animal from Labrador to Newfoundland Island, or to possess or release into the wild a wild animal so-imported or so-relocated [WL Regs 83(1,3), 84]. For these purposes, 'wild animal' means "any live animal, including without limitation, any amphibian, arthropod, bird, coelenterate, crustacean, fish, other invertebrate, mammal, mollusk or reptile, whether or not bred, hatched or born in captivity" [Wl Regs 83(2)].
















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