Moose hunting season is about to start and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has areminder for hunters. Officials want to make sure they know the difference between moose calves and cows.

The MNRF says it can be a challenge, even for skilled hunters, to know the difference between young and female moose. That's why they are offering helpful tips to distinguish between the two.

With his experience in policing and as hunter, Marc Depatie, of the Timmins Police Service, says coming across a moose left to decay after being mistakenly shot does happen.

"It's not uncommon for that to happen.  And it's a sad and stark reminder for the rest of the hunting population to be mindful of what they're doing and act responsible at all times.  You have to identify the gender of the animal you're about to take in order to be an ethical hunter." said Depatie.

MNRF officials say, more often than not, a moose calf will stick close to its mother.  So, if you see a single moose without antlers, take time to search for a nearby calf. 

Calves are also only about four feet high, whereas a cow will stand around six feet in height.

Facial features include a short face and ears on a calf and a much larger bell on a cow. 

When applying for moose hunting tags, officials say it's up to hunters to educate themselves, and if they make a mistake, be sure to report it to the MNRF.

"We recognize mistakes do occur in hunting.  We acknowledge those. All officers are hunters themselves and we understand the types of mistakes that can occur, but we want to prevent those mistakes and encourage hunters to take that extra time. So again, it depends on the situation. In some cases, we see groups that have come through and made errors in identification on more than one occasion." said conservation officer Davis Viehbeck.

The consequences for hunting the wrong moose range from a warning to a fine or something more serious. Officials say each case is investigated independently.