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Digest of the Week — Who Owns Wild Animals?

George v. Newfoundland and Labrador |
2014 CarswellNfld 270 |
Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court (Trial Division)

Torts | Negligence | Liability of owner or possessor of animals | Injury by wild animals

Plaintiffs brought class action against provincial Crown with respect to moose-vehicle collisions on highways in province, on basis of strict liability, public nuisance or negligence — Action dismissed — There was no statutory authority for claim that province was owner or keeper of moose inhabiting island of Newfoundland — Scienter doctrine, imposing strict liability on keeper of wild animal, was not applicable — Crown did not possess moose so as to make it their owner at common law — No provisions in any provincial statutes vested Crown with property rights in wild animals — Once colonial government released individual moose into wild in late 19th or early 20th century, title was relinquished — Crown's statutory authority to manage moose population did not make it liable for damages caused by moose.
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