Ontario government reveals new changes to moose hunt
SUDBURY -- The Ontario government has introduced new changes into how it plans to conduct the moose hunt moving forward in the province.
The new system for moose harvest management will include added restrictions so more calves have a better chance of reaching adulthood, moving from a draw to a points-based system giving preference to applicants who have been unsuccessful in getting a tag for a number of years and fee restructuring for licences and tags.
"This was a process that our ministry started now, a year ago back in April," said Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources. "The minister struck a new government committee called the Big Game Management Advisory Committee or affectionately BGMAC for short. They performed some listening sessions across the province … to get a sense of what the hunting community was looking for in regards to changes in moose management here in the province."
The government says it will also continue plans for moose aerial inventory surveys in specific areas each winter to help estimate the moose population status and determine trends.
"This is something that hasn't been done upwards of 20 years, it pre-dates my Dad's government back in the 90s and 2000s was the last time there were substantial changes made to moose management here so we're really excited about some of the changes that are coming forward and definitely we're listening to hunters and making sure that we keep a sustainable moose population here in the province," said Harris.
Harris says this is about transparency and shouldn't be construed as a free-for-all on moose in the province.
"There's also going to be a Northern hunter preference point that gets added in and that will happen every year that you apply, it doesn't accumulate and give you more points but you do get an extra point that you apply for a tag as a Northern hunter," added Harris.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters calls the move a necessary step in which both hunting and the animal is protected.
"The moose hunters in the province have been voicing their frustration with the current system for quite a few years so we really applaud the government for taking on this review and coming out with some recommendations with the goal of improving the system. One of the real challenges is that moose hunters hunt moose over a vast sort of geographic areas of the province and do it with very different methods. Hunters in say Northwestern Ontario hunt very differently than hunters in Southern Ontario and what this means is when you make changes and a plan for the whole province you're going to get mixed reception of those changes. That was one thing we really tried to communicate to the government in our response to the changes," said wildlife biologist Keith Munro.
The changes are going to be rolled out over two years with the bulk of the changes being rolled out in 2021.
"And so we don't want to see sustainable hunting opportunities unnecessarily restricted and that's a really important thing for the OFAH is we always want to ensure we're having sustainable moose populations for today, for tomorrow and into the future but at the same time and as a part of that we don't want to be unnecessarily restricting sustainable harvest," Munro added.
According to the Ontario government, hunting contributes more than $560 million to Ontario's economy a year and creates jobs across Northern Ontario.
BGMAC held seven listening sessions and heard from more than 600 interested hunters, members of the indigenous communities, the public and organizations.