Ontario Moose Hunters Disappointed In MNR Changes
Hunters bear burden of moose management restrictions
Moose hunting in Ontario is undergoing a dramatic change. Despite a clear lack of public support, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has approved changes to the licensed moose hunting season in Northern Ontario.
“We’re disappointed that no alterations were made to the proposal to reflect the comments received from the public. The Ministry itself admits that the majority of public comments did not support the proposed changes,” said Mark Ryckman, OFAH senior wildlife biologist.
As part of the Moose Project, the MNRF recently proposed two significant changes to moose seasons north of the French and Mattawa Rivers. The first, to take effect in 2015, will prohibit calf harvest outside of a two-week period in October. The second change, beginning in 2016, involves delaying the start of the gun hunt by one week.
While the OFAH acknowledges that the moose resource is the first priority and that some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) would benefit from a reduction in calf harvest, it argued that delaying the season has no scientific merit, and was not supported by the majority of stakeholders. The OFAH also argued that a two-week calf season is overly restrictive and could result in crowding, poor hunt quality, and less flexibility for hunters.
The season changes come on the heels of drastic tag reductions for the second consecutive year.
“In 2014, adult validation tags were reduced by 18% provincially and the result was 6,000 fewer licensed hunters. In 2015, we are being hit with an additional 15% tag reduction, which will almost certainly result in many people hunting in another jurisdiction, or abandoning moose hunting altogether,” said Ryckman.
WMUs in Northeastern Ontario are suffering the greatest tag reductions, with units 30, 38, and 47 being hit the hardest. Each of those units suffered tag reductions over 80% from last year. The OFAH has received a commitment from the MNRF to proceed with Phase II of the Moose Project, which will involve an examination of all factors that impact moose populations. “It’s time for the Ministry to start managing moose populations, and not just moose hunters. We expect the minister to follow through on his commitment, and turn a promise into action and results,” said Ryckman.
The OFAH will continue to insist on sound moose management that will generate the greatest benefit to the moose resource, while minimizing unnecessary impacts to licensed moose hunters.