Ontario’s sweeping Moose Project proposal leaves hunters reeling
After seeing unprecedented tag cuts in 2014, moose hunters face even more restrictions in 2015
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is poised once again to limit moose hunting opportunities in the province of Ontario in a manner the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) calls overly restrictive and unnecessary.
“While we are encouraged by the Ministry’s commitment to addressing Ontario’s declining moose populations and its reassurance that non-hunting factors affecting moose will be examined, we don’t agree with the specific changes being proposed,” said Mark Ryckman, OFAH senior wildlife biologist.
As part of the Moose Project, the MNRF has proposed two significant changes to moose hunting across much of northern Ontario. The first, to take effect in 2015, is a reduction in calf hunting opportunities. Currently, moose hunters can harvest a calf under the authority of their provincial moose licence. Under the new proposal, calf harvest in northern Ontario would be prohibited outside of a two-week period in October.
While the OFAH acknowledges that some Wildlife Management Units would benefit from a reduction in calf harvest, we argue a two-week calf season is overly restrictive and could result in crowding and poor hunt quality while making it difficult for hunters to accommodate fluctuations in weather, work schedules and hunting preferences. The OFAH calls for a phased-in approach to ensure hunting opportunities are not prematurely and unnecessarily restricted. This would also provide the MNRF with an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of any management changes.
The second proposal involves delaying the start of the gun hunt by one week. This change would not take effect until 2016, but the OFAH has major concerns with this proposal. The existing adult tag allocation system already allows biologists to tightly control the harvest of adult moose, which makes the season delay redundant and therefore unnecessary.
“The anticipated benefits do not outweigh the costs – it is a significant negative impact to licensed hunting, and the potential benefits are not supported by data,” Ryckman said.
The OFAH will continue to insist on good moose management that ensures sustainable moose populations while minimizing impacts on licensed moose hunters. We are calling on our 100,000 members and the hunting public to speak out on the proposed changes that could affect you this fall and into the future.
The OFAH wants moose hunters to have their voices heard by commenting on the EBR and helping us spread the message that Ontario has to stop focusing its management efforts solely on licensed moose hunters and start managing moose populations. Go to the Environmental Registry (EBR) website www.ebr.gov.on.ca and search for EBR posting [#012-3413] Amendment to regulations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act for moose hunting in northern Ontario and submit a formal comment to express your opinion.
Hunters can also help the OFAH spread the message on Twitter (@ofah) using the hashtag #ONMoose and encourage others on social media to respond to the EBR. For all the latest on this issue, visit www.ofah.org/moose.