By Connor Lynch
SIMCOE COUNTY — Under Ontario’s new Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, predator kills have dropped dramatically.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) reported 1,905 predator kills from April 2017 to the end-of-March, 2018. That’s a 58 per cent decrease from 4,507 kills in 2016 to 2017. One reason for the decline: destroyed bee hives are no longer tracked.
There are also new standards for proof of a predator attack. Are they too high? Plenty of producers think so, Beef Farmers of Ontario’s policy and issues manager Richard Horne said. Farmers are frustrated, telling Farmers Forum that the ministry is demanding more evidence than they could ever reasonably produce.
There were 381 of 1,663 claim applications that were rejected. That’s a 23 per cent rejection rate. Of the rejections, 284 were due to insufficient evidence. There are more kills than claims because multiple kills can be submitted under one claim.
The province took evaluation out of the hands of the inspectors and standardized rates on Jan. 1, 2017. Western Ontario had 685 kills and compensation of $238,294. Simcoe was the worst hit county in the province as per usual, totaling 203 kills, down from 383 last year.
Coyotes were the top predators, as they always are, dominating the total kills across Ontario with 1,428 of 1,905 total kills. Raccoons were the second most common predator with 154 kills. Wolves had 115 kills.
Sheep were again the top target for predators. There were 984 killed last year, about 600 fewer than the year before. Cattle were next, at 464, followed by chickens, goats, and deer.
Almost half the total payouts went for cattle, garnering about $852 per head for a total of $395,510 in compensation. Sheep were next, getting $247 a head for a total payout of $243,928. Bison got the highest payout per animal, at $2,036 a head.