Conflicts with wildlife can be a major issue for beef farmers, particularly those in the cow-calf sector. The Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, administered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), provides financial assistance to producers whose livestock has been damaged by wildlife, including bears, cougars, coyotes, crows, ravens, turkey vultures and wolves. Damage caused by dogs is not eligible for compensation under the program.
How it works
Upon discovering that livestock has been injured or killed by wildlife, a producer must notify their municipality (or OMAFRA, if in an area without a municipal organization) within 48 hours. Within three days of receiving notification, a livestock investigator will investigate the damage to confirm it has been caused by wildlife and to determine what amount of compensation should be paid. The investigator will then submit a written report to the municipality, the producer and OMAFRA. If there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the predation event a payment will be issued by your municipality using the average Ontario market price for that class of animal as reported by BFO. OMAFRA will provide written notification to the producer and the municipality of the application assessment results, including any compensation value assigned.
If a producer does not agree with the written results of his or her assessed application, he or she may request, in writing, an appeal of the decision. A written request for an appeal must be received by the program administrator within 20 business days of the date indicated on the notification letter. A fee of $25, in the form of a cheque or money order payable to "Minister of Finance," is also required to process the appeal request; however, the fee will be refunded if the director makes a decision that favours the owner's position.
To be eligible for compensation, a producer must have a Farm Business Registration number (or documentation for exemption) and a Premise Identification number. In addition, a producer must be able to demonstrate that reasonable effort has been taken to prevent incidences of wildlife damage to their livestock.
The program provides 100% of the value of the loss, up to the prescribed maximum compensation values:
Cattle, registered: maximum value of $8,000
Cattle, non-registered: maximum value of $2,500
Calves, not weaned: up to one month of age, maximum value of 70% of the value of a 500 lb weaned calf; value increases 5% per month up to 7 months of age
What to do if you experience a loss
- Notify the municipality, or OMAFRA if you live in an unorganized township, within 48 hours of discovery.
- Take photos that demonstrate predation, and not just scavenging, to support the findings of the valuer.
- Take photos of the animal, its wounds and the area around the carcass. Provide information to the valuer when he/she visits.
- It is the producer’s responsibility to protect the carcass from scavenging and deterioration from the elements. This may involve putting a tarp and lime on/around the scene to dissuade animals from scavenging.
- If no carcass is present, a claim can’t be made.
- Record the estimated weight and age of each animal.
- Provide evidence that reasonable care is being taken to guard the animals from predation (e.g. predator fencing, guard animals, lights etc.)
Additional information on the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program can be found in its Program Guidelines, or by contacting OMAFRA at 1.877.424.1300. The Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program is part of Growing Forward, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative.
BFO has hosted a webinar discussing Ontario's Predation Compensation Program. Check out the recording to learn what beef producers can do to ensure their applications are positioned for success.