Ontario Wants to Reverse Ban on Penned Dog Hunting

The Ontario government is planning to reverse a province-wide ban on new cruel “train and trial areas”—enclosed outdoor dog hunting pens where animals such as foxes, coyotes, and rabbits are used as live bait to train hunting dogs.

This style of sport hunting is also known as “penned hunting”, and it’s illegal everywhere else in Canada and in most US states. Penned hunting is widely condemned, controversial, and causes extreme and unnecessary stress, suffering, and death to wild animals, while posing threats to public health and safety at the same time.

Ontario outlawed dog hunting pens in 1997. Existing pen operators were exempt, but the goal was that hunting pens would be phased out over time as owners retired or otherwise got out of the business. There are now only 24 left in the province, down from 50-60 when the ban was passed.

But extremist hunting lobby groups like the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ontario Sporting Dogs Association are pushing the government to reverse the ban so that new dog hunting pens can open up, and existing pens can sell to new owners.

Wild Animals Ripped Apart by Dogs

The coyotes, foxes, and rabbits who are used as bait are usually caught by trappers, and sold so they can be released into these pens and hunted to death. Sometimes, these animals are bred so their offspring can be used in captive hunts.

The terrified animals run for their lives, but have nowhere to escape to. When they are caught, they are often viciously killed by dogs who are trained to rip them apart, piece by piece.

But the animals don’t always die. They often survive the hunt, and are forced to endure additional fear and distress when they are pursued by future packs of dogs.

The dogs that are forced to participate can also suffer from injuries or even death at these events.

Image shows dog injured from penned hunting.
Dog is impaled during penned hunt.
Photo: Robert Towns, Ontario Field Trialers Facebook group

Penned Hunting as Entertainment

Hunters claim dog hunting pens are to train, test, and exercise hunting dogs—but they’re nothing more than a form of disturbing entertainment.

Dog hunting pens often host contests where dogs are scored by a panel of judges based on their ability to track the captive animals. Prizes may be awarded to participants, and spectators are often in attendance.

Image shows hunters posing with hounds and dead coyote in penned hunt.
Photo: Stuart Briscoe | Facebook
Photo: Kevin Kearns | Ontario Field Trialers Facebook group

Public Health & Safety Risks

Penned hunting can also have serious consequences for public health. Interacting with wildlife contributes to the spread of disease and parasites, including zoonotic diseases that can hurt wild animals, domestic animals, and humans.

Despite these risks, Ontario plans to allow new dog hunting pens in the province, which will increase the demand for trapping and keeping wild animals in captivity, as well as the disease risks linked to the practice.

Society Opposes Penned Hunting

Research has shown that more than four out of five Canadians oppose hunting animals for sport. It’s no surprise that no other Canadian province allows penned dog hunting.

It’s unacceptable that Ontario is considering undoing all of the phase out of penned hunting in the province—all because a handful of sport hunters want to participate in this horrific bloodsport.