Farmers urged to provide information on wildlife damage done to crops

NORTHERN ONTARIO—The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is calling on all farmers to provide them with information, input and photographs of wildlife damage done to their crops.

“The Northern Federation (of the OFA) meets every year and two years ago we indicated that we need farmers data on wildlife damage to their crops as part of a wildlife damage survey,” said Mark Kunkel, OFA director, for Northern Ontario. “The more information provided the better.”

On the OFA website, under the headline ‘Wildlife Damage Survey: We need to know about wildlife damage to crops’ Mr. Kunkel writes “at the various farm meetings across the North I have attended over the last few months the issue of wildlife damage to crops has been a regular topic of discussion. Regulations were passed at both Northern Caucus and OFA convention to pursue this issue with government. While past estimates from various sources indicate the damage is significant province wide, the situation in the north is evolving and we need some indication now as to what the real situation is.”

“We need to hear from individual farmers as to the challenges you are facing,” continued Mr. Kunkel. “To this end we have created a wildlife damage survey you can complete it online, or send by email or regular mail. If you are able to provide pictures so much the better.” He explained, “if we are able to obtain a wildlife damage profile this season for each district we will be in a much better position to develop and present proposals to government.”

One of the predators that he has heard there is a concern in regards to crop damage is Sandhill cranes, Mr. Kunkel told the Recorder. “In this year particularly, the weather will be a factor as it affects migration and nesting.” He said for the most part provincial biologists don’t believe there are large numbers of birds in the north and that they are causing a significant problem for farmers and their crops. “The more information and pictures that we have to show there is a problem, the better decisions can be made by the government.”

“As for the problem with geese and the large numbers there are and the damage they do to crops, I really don’t know what to do,” said Mr. Kunkel. “I know one farmer in New Liskeard who told me he had at least 36 geese in a small crop field that he had, a couple of years ago. But again, provincial biologists don’t believe this is the case and nothing or very little has been done to help out farmers in similar cases. And animals and birds are going to go where they can find food the easiest, and farm crops are right there for them.”

“We know Sandhill cranes have been around a long time, and have flattened crops in many areas. But without proof of this damage the government makes decisions without input from farmers who have been affected by these and other wildlife,” continued Mr. Kunkel, who said the ultimate goal would be to have a legislated hunt on the birds established.

“Hopefully we can get enough farmers involved and they can provide enough information and pictures that show the damage being done by wildlife on their crops and we can get something accomplished,” said Mr. Kunkel.

“The Northern Federation has posted this wildlife damage survey on the OFA website, and farmers can complete this online or send a completed form in. And it doesn’t have to be just farmers, property owners and even hunters who had seen wildlife damage can get involved,” said Mr. Kunkel. “Anyone who has had wildlife damage done to their property can be involved.”

The Wildlife Damage Survey can be found on the OFA Northern Ontario website, and completed online, or sent to NOFIA, P.O. Box 2976, New Liskeard, Ontario P0J1P0 nofia.on@gmail.ca