Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

In the spring of 2022, a number of wild birds of several species were confirmed to have Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) across southern Ontario.

HPAI was also detected in migratory species in all four flyways (migration corridors) in North America.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can infect birds, including:

  • waterfowl
  • shorebirds
  • raptors
  • corvids (crows and ravens)
  • game bird species
  • domestic flocks such as chickens, turkeys and quail

While the risk of human infection with avian influenza viruses is low, you should use caution when handling wild birds. Read the precautions for bird banders, aviculturists and wildlife rehabilitation centres published by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

If you encounter a sick or dead wild bird, report it to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative by phone at 1-866-673-4781 or online.

The law

In general, you can keep a dead wild animal or bird you have found or been given.

In some cases, you need to register that you have a dead wild animal in order to keep it.

This rule applies to certain:

  • large mammals (such as black bear)
  • birds of prey (such as bald eagle)
  • furbearing mammals (such as coyote)

For information about keeping dead migratory birds, please contact the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Registration

You don’t always need to register the possession. The process depends on:

  • the type of wild animal
  • how you acquired it

If you need to register, you register for what’s called a Notice of Possession – this allows you to keep the dead wild animal for personal use. You must keep the Confirmation of Registration you receive for as long as the animal is in your possession.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of rules related to this activity in:

Species at risk

Special rules apply for endangered or threatened species. You can only keep endangered or threatened species under very limited circumstances (such as for scientific and education purposes).

Endangered or threatened species are listed on the Species at risk in Ontario list.

When you need to register

Large mammals

This group includes:

  • black bear
  • white-tailed deer
  • moose
  • American elk
  • woodland caribou

Additional rules may apply to woodland caribou (forest-dwelling boreal populations) under the Endangered Species Act

Register a large mammal

If you:

  • find the wild animal dead (such as roadkill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent protecting property who has lawfully killed a black bear in protection of property

Do not register a large mammal

If you:

  • lawfully killed it (such as with the appropriate hunting licence)
  • receive it as a gift from someone who lawfully killed it
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (such as in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist or butcher possessing it in the course of your business

Hire a wildlife agent

Raptors (birds of prey)

This group includes:

  • bald eagle
  • peregrine falcon
  • northern goshawk
  • golden eagle
  • gyrfalcon
  • northern harrier
  • American kestrel
  • American swallow-tailed kite
  • merlin
  • osprey
  • turkey vulture
  • certain hawks (broad-winged, Cooper’s, red-shouldered, red-tailed, rough-legged, and sharp-shinned)
  • certain owls (barn, barred, boreal, burrowing, eastern screech, great gray, great horned, long-eared, northern hawk, northern saw-whet, short-eared, and snowy)

Additional rules may apply to golden eagle and barn owl under the Endangered Species Act.

Register a raptor

If you:

  • find it dead (such as roadkill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent who has lawfully killed it protecting property
  • receive it as a gift

Do not register a raptor

If you:

  • receive it as a gift from a person who lawfully killed it
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (such as in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist possessing it in the course of your business

Furbearing mammals (and their pelts)

This group includes:

  • American badger
  • beaver
  • bobcat
  • coyote
  • fisher
  • fox (Arctic, gray, red)
  • lynx
  • marten
  • mink
  • muskrat
  • opossum
  • otter
  • polar bear
  • raccoon
  • red squirrel
  • striped skunk
  • weasel (least, long-tailed, short-tailed or ermine)
  • wolf
  • wolverine

Additional rules may apply under the Endangered Species Act to American badger, gray fox, polar bear and wolverine that originate from Ontario.

Register a furbearing mammal

If you:

  • find it dead (such as roadkill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent who has lawfully killed it protecting property
  • buy or otherwise acquire or import the pelt of a furbearing mammal, or the carcass including the pelt, for your own personal use

Do not register a furbearing mammal

If you:

  • lawfully killed it (such as if you are a licensed trapper or small game hunter)
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (such as in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist or butcher possessing it in the course of your business

Rules that apply to the possession of a pelt

How to register

Step 1: Sign in or create a ONe-key ID

Step 2: Create a Natural Resources Registry profile:

Step 3: Register a Notice of Possession:

  • select My Services from the main menu
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Possession from the registry options
  • complete the required information
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Keep your confirmation:

  • you will receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

Register by mail:

Step 1: Download the Notice of Possession Form

Step 2: Mail the completed form to:
Registry and Approval Services Centre
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
300 Water Street
Peterborough ON K9J 8M5

Step 3: You’ll receive your Confirmation of Registration within 15 business days.

Buy, sell or give wildlife

In most cases, you cannot buy or sell game wildlife or specially protected wildlife, whether alive or dead, without permission.

Some rare exceptions exist (such as selling a pelt as a licensed trapper).

For more information, please contact a local ministry district office.

Giving as a gift

You may give a dead wild animal as a gift, if you legally acquired it, though you may need to register it first.