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For a harmonious coexistence between wildlife managers, hikers and pets

During a walk outdoors, it can be tempting to let your dog roam freely for a little exercise and to enjoy nature. However, this can expose your pet to various dangers: Image1

  • It may cause or be the victim of a road accident;
  • It may be hurt by another animal (for example, a porcupine, coyote, an animal carrying the rabies virus, etc.);
  • It may contract or spread diseases or parasites
  • It may be caught in a lawfully set trap or be shot accidentally;
  • It may be exposed to hazardous substances;
  • It can get lost in the forest

In addition, if it is not under your control and feels threatened, your dog may attack humans or other animals. Dogs that are left unattended can cause serious damage to wildlife populations. They tend to chase wild animals and this behavior can be particularly damaging to white-tailed deer in winter.

It is difficult or even impossible to know with certainty how your pet will react under stress or excitement. So it is better to keep it on a leash for its safety, that of wildlife and that of other land users (hikers, hunters, etc.).

What about cats?

Cats that are left to roam free are exposed to the same types of dangers as stray dogs (see above). These cats can also cause damage to wildlife. While hunting, they can affect the populations of their prey (small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates) and compete with native predators. They can also serve as vectors for diseases transmissible to humans or other animals. Keeping your cat inside your home at any time would greatly reduce the dangers it may be exposed to. This would also help to limit the negative impacts that your pet might have on wildlife.

Did you know?

  • According to the Board of Directors of Public Health, nearly 117,000 cases of dog bites on humans are recorded each year in Quebec.
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the domestic cat is one of the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species to the maintenance of biodiversity.
  • In Quebec, “No person owning or harbouring a dog may allow it to run at large in any place where big game is habitually found” according to Article 61 of An Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife . This law provides for a minimum of $250 fine for infringement and authorizes a wildlife agent to kill a dog that wanders where there are big game animals.
  • According to Article 1466 of the Civil Code of Québec, “The owner of an animal is liable to reparation for injury it has caused, whether the animal was under his custody or that of a third person, or had strayed or escaped. A person making use of the animal is, together with the owner, also liable during that time.”
  • Quebec municipalities have generally adopted regulations requiring the use of the leash. It is important to learn about the regulations that apply in your municipality.


Source of funding for this project:
This project was made possible through the financial support of the ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs under the Reinvestment in the field of wildlife. However, ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author agencies.