Two “serious instances” involving people endangering crops to take selfies at a southern Ontario canola farm over the Canada Day long weekend have prompted police to warn the public about the potential consequences of trespassing into crop fields.
The Dufferin Detachment of the OPP says it has seen an increase in trespassing incidents at canola fields in the county, with the most recent happening last weekend in Melancthon Township, located more than 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto.
Police said people stopped their vehicles on the side of Highway 10 and entered canola fields to take photos.
In a news release issued on Monday, police shared a photo showing cars lined up on the side of the highway as several people were seen taking pictures in a canola field.
The plant is in peak full bloom at this time of the year, colouring vast fields yellow, making it a summer attraction for some who want Instagram-worthy photos.
“While Canola is beautiful at this time of year, it is a crop. It is a large part of plant-based diets and a source of income for our farmers,” the OPP said.
“The potential damage to this crop is valued at $2,000 if only one acre is damaged. It will increase if there was a larger area affected.”
Police reminded the public that under the Trespass to Property Act, crop fields are not required to have fences or signage to warn people not to enter. So entering a canola field by foot or on an off-road vehicle is still considered trespassing, even if there are no signs.
“If a person damages crops, then a criminal charge of mischief could be considered by a responding police officer,” the OPP said.
Police added that they will continue to monitor the situation but asked for help. The incidents last weekend were not reported immediately, which was why police weren’t able to respond on time.
Police urge anyone who sees a similar situation to call 1-888-310-1122 instantly.