Small game management and regulation changes on the way

by Steve Galea | January 23, 2017

small game

The management and regulations regarding small game and fur-bearers in Ontario will receive a long-awaited overhaul if proposals in two provincial Environmental Bill of Rights Registry notices are approved.

EBR Registry Policy Proposal Notice 012-9169 proposes A Small Game and Furbearers Framework for Ontario. If approved, the document would guide future decisions regarding small game and furbearer management in Ontario.

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) fish and wildlife biologist Dawn Sucee says the federation is, for the most part, pleased with the proposal.

“We have been advocating for a management plan for small game since 2009. There’s general support for the intent of the framework…We’d like, however, to see clearer targets and objectives established in addition to refining management direction,” she said.

EBR Notice 012-9170 was also posted on Dec. 14, 2016 and proposes changes that would streamline and simplify small game seasons and limits province-wide.

The changes, if passed, will be in place for 2017 fall hunting seasons. They include reductions in the number of seasons to embrace a broader landscape approach for small game and fur-bearers across the province and a streamlining of daily and possession limits to simplify regulations for hunters and trappers.

Ring-necked pheasant daily bag and possession limits would be increased to 10 in all wildlife management units (WMU). Resident snapping turtle harvests would be restricted in accordance with the proposed framework and the Proposed Management Plan for the Snapping Turtle in Canada.

Other proposals include modernizing the description of areas where fur-bearing mammals may be trapped in Ontario to use existing WMU boundaries. Similarly, the description of areas where bullfrogs may be harvested will be updated to help streamline seasons and be more consistent with modern wildlife management. The commercial bullfrog licence would also be eliminated.

Non-resident hunters would be permitted to hunt rabbit and hare in the counties of Lambton, Kent and the entire country of Essex, and raccoon at night.

Lastly, the ministry has committed to working with trapper and Indigenous communities, organizations and stakeholders to examine ways to streamline the process to obtain a licence to possess a pelt.

“We are generally supportive of many of the proposals recognizing small game regulations,” said Sucee. “For example, seasons currently vary widely and have not been updated for decades. We strongly believe small game management should be reviewed to better reflect the current distribution of species and hunting opportunities in Ontario, and address significant knowledge gaps where there is a conservation concern.”

“We support reducing the number of different seasons (i.e. simplifying) for small game and furbearers. However, we have a few concerns with respect to the proposed ecologically similar areas and the intent to make seasons and limits consistent within them. Small game hunting regulations should be simplified and standardized where doing so does not compromise the conservation and optimal sustainable use of the WMU populations.”

Both EBR notices were open to public comment until Jan. 30, 2017. Visit www.ebr.gov.on.ca to comment. Use the EBR Policy Proposal notice numbers mentioned above to access them.

 Get more information on proposed changes to Migratory Birds Regulations here.