Unwelcome visitors can cause damages and threaten biosecurity
A person convicted of trespassing on Ontario farmland could be charged with a criminal offence which could lead to a fine up to $10,000, the Ontario Trespass to Property Act
Individuals entering private property – including farmland – without stated permission of the land occupier or landowner can face trespassing offences, the act says.
It is further prohibited to enter a location, the Act states, that
• “is a garden, field or other land that is under cultivation, including a lawn, orchard, vineyard and premises on which trees have been planted and have not attained an average height of more than two metres and woodlots on land used primarily for agricultural purposes; or
• “is enclosed in a manner that indicates the occupier’s intention to keep persons off the premises or to keep animals on the premises.”
A person can also be convicted of trespassing if driving a motor vehicle or snowmobile on farmland.
Understanding the dangers of trespassing is vital, Neil Currie, OFA general manager, told Farms.com.
“It’s the law. There’s a reason why you should stay off farms,” he said. “There are a lot of dangers out there.
“You don’t know what kind of livestock might be out in the field. People that trespass sometimes damage fences, and livestock can escape as a result,” he explained.
Biosecurity concerns also arise with farm trespassing, as diseases could be transferred to herds, Currie added.
Illicit use of motorized vehicles can also cause problems.
“If people go out mudding in their Jeeps or ATVs, it creates a lot of damage,” he said.
Given the time of year, hunters can also be a worry for farmers.
“Most of them are really good about it, but you still (have) the occasional” problem, Currie said.
A general lack of knowledge of trespassing laws in Ontario can contribute to farm damages.
“Most people are probably unaware” of the laws, Currie said. “A lot of people, I think, have the attitude that (farmers) have a lot of land, so (non-farmers may question) what’s it going to hurt (and think) I won’t even be noticed.”
Trespassing laws act as preventative measures.
“There are a lot of dangers, and the law is there for a reason,” Currie said.
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