Two former Ontario conservation officers, Rick Maw and Wayne Lintack, are urging the province to reverse plans to expand a sport that allows dogs to track down captive coyotes, foxes, and rabbits in large, fenced-in pens. They argue that the sport, often referred to as training and trialing, is cruel to the captive prey and that regulations are impossible to enforce. “How is this a fair chase?” Maw said. “This is a sport of cruelty.” Despite this, the province, after lobbying from hunters, has decided to expand the sport.

The proposed changes are included in Bill 91 — the Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act — that will soon become law. “Phasing out facilities would force sporting dog professionals to train dogs on public land putting the dogs, wildlife and the public at risk,” said Melissa Candelaria, a spokeswoman for the natural resources minister. However, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner called the proposed expansion a “giant step backwards.” “No other Canadian province permits penned dog hunting,” he said. “Instead of opening new applications, the government should prioritize strengthening the existing legislation that bans new facilities, and shutting down the few that remain.”