The Ontario government just reversed a decades-long ban on new penned dog hunting areas, which hunters euphemistically call “train and trial areas”. Penned dog hunting is a troubling bloodsport where hunters unleash dogs to chase and maul terrified animals in an enclosed outdoor space.
In penned dog hunting, coyotes, foxes, and rabbits, are used as live bait with no means of escape. This practice is undeniably cruel and causes heartbreaking and unnecessary suffering.
In 1997, Ontario outlawed new dog hunting pens due to ethical concerns. Existing operators were exempt and the goal was to phase out these pens entirely as owners retired or left the business. Prior to the ban, there were 50-60 penned hunting areas in Ontario. Today, there are 24 remaining.
Thousands of Animal Justice supporters and several animal protection groups submitted comments during the consultation period, telling Ontario to uphold the ban. But despite hearing these calls the government reversed the penned dog hunting ban to appease extremist hunting lobby groups including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ontario Sporting Dogs Association.
Dog hunting pens also put public health and safety at risk. Interacting with wildlife contributes to the spread of disease and parasites, including zoonotic diseases that can hurt wild animals, domestic animals, and humans.
No other Canadian province allows penned dog hunting, and reversing the ban in Ontario is cruel and irresponsible. It’s unacceptable that Ontario is undoing all of the work to phase out penned hunting in the province—all because a handful of sport hunters want to participate in this horrific bloodsport.