The OFAH understands that the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on fishing and hunting in Ontario has raised many questions within the outdoors community. With that in mind we have updated our original list of frequently asked questions and answers for anglers and hunters. As we all continue to try to navigate and understand the challenges posed by this unprecedented situation, further updates will be added.
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At this point, the Government of Ontario has not made any direct changes to fishing and hunting. While many of the government Orders that limited or restricted publicly-accessible areas used for fishing and hunting have lifted, there may still be area closures. Additionally, not all Conservation Authorities and Municipal parks and forests have been reopened for angling and hunting. Governments are also encouraging all Ontario residents to limit all non-essential travel and follow social distancing guidelines. While hunting and fishing are not prohibited, you may be fined for breaking COVID-19 restrictions (e.g. gatherings of more than 10 people). You can find more information on closures and OFAH’s health and safety advice for anglers and hunters at www.ofah.org/covid19.
There are no specific COVID-19 guidelines for anglers and hunters, but governments are encouraging everyone to practice physical distancing (2m+) and limit all non-essential travel. The OFAH is encouraging all anglers and hunters to fully adhere to all government Orders and guidelines. For more details, you can find OFAH’s health and safety advice for anglers and hunters at www.ofah.org/covid19.
The MNRF has said “We are planning to go ahead with fall hunts as scheduled. In the event that big game hunting seasons are closed due to public health restrictions, the ministry is considering options for reimbursement or credits for purchased big game licences and draw applications (elk). The ministry will provide detailed communications to hunters in the event of hunting season closures.”. In order to ensure you receive the most up to date information, we recommend signing up for OFAH e-news here: https://www.ofah.org/enews/.
Yes. While private businesses and retail store closures have significantly reduced the number of licence issuers available to purchase products in person, many ServiceOntario locations offer this service and remain open. Please note: the Government of Ontario is urging ‘Ontarians not to visit a ServiceOntario centre unless completely necessary’. Ontario fishing and hunting licence products can also be purchased by phone (1-800-288-1155) or online at https://www.huntandfishontario.com/.
Yes, there are no longer any COVID-19 related restrictions on the use of Crown land, for more information and to stay up to date, please visit www.ofah.org/covid19closures.
The government has specifically asked people to stay home unless absolutely necessary to avoid unnecessary burdens on rural services and food supplies. However, there are no restrictions on the use of Crown land leases or Land Use Permits, such as hunt camps. Keep in mind that the 10-person maximum group size is in effect, even for hunt camps. For more details, please visit www.ofah.org/covid19closures.
The OFAH is encouraging all anglers and hunters to abide by all government Orders and follow government public health guidelines to ensure the safety of themselves and others. Where anglers and hunters live in the province, the opportunities available to them, and other factors will determine whether someone should go fishing or hunting. The direction of public health officials is paramount right now and every angler and hunter need to take an honest look at their situation and determine if they can fish and hunt within those guidelines. More details on OFAH’s advice to anglers and hunters is available here: www.ofah.org/safetytips.
The OFAH has launched a webpage dedicated to letting our members know what publicly-accessible areas and access points used for fishing and hunting are closed due to COVID-19 and which of those have reopened. Visit www.ofah.org/covid19closures.
Fishing and hunting are not prohibited, but some areas used by anglers and hunters have been closed to all users. Fishing and hunting are not inherently high-risk activities for spreading COVID-19. This is especially true when fishing or hunting can be done with little or no travel. The province, on the advice of public health officials, has allowed for the reopening of many publicly-accessible lands and access points for fishing and hunting.
No, unfortunately due to the circumstances related to COVID-19, and the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses, all Ontario Hunter Education Program (OHEP) and Canadian Firearm Safety Courses (CFSC) have been postponed indefinitely.
Presently, Transport Canada has not changed any of the boating safety rules, or put any new specific measures in place that will affect recreational boating during the COVID 19 pandemic, and currently, fishing is still permitted. However, pleasure craft activities and angling should be undertaken in compliance with all public health measures put in place by the Government of Ontario.
The public health guidelines and rules around social gathering must be strictly adhered to. Due to the difficulty of keeping an appropriate social distance in a boat, we recommend going alone or with only members of your household.
As of right now, the MNRF has not announced any changes to the fall hunting seasons. However, if the public health measures are still in place in the fall, the ability of hunters to participate in those seasons may be limited. Any hunting can only take place in accordance with the public health guidelines and many hunters traditionally travel long distances, congregate in hunting parties of more than 10 people and stay in accommodations where it is impossible to maintain proper social distancing. Visit ofah.org/covid19 for safety advice for hunters and a list of COVID-19 related closures. The OFAH is working to get answers for hunters. Sign up for E-News at ofah.org/enews to stay informed.
Licenses and tags can still be purchased online and printed at home. Also, select Service Ontario sites and license issuers are still open. Visit here for a list of Service Ontario closures. Note that not all Service Ontario’s provide licensing services. If these options are not accessible to you, you can purchase your licences, tags, and apply to draws over the phone at 1-800-288-1155. Only Outdoors Cards are mailed out, you will still need to print your licences and/or tags. If you have purchased a tag over the phone, you could have a trusted individual make an account for you at www.huntandfishontario.com and print your licence and/or tags for you. You can learn how to make an account at here.
As of May 16, 2020, Ontario is lifting the Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ) designation that was put in place last month across much of Central and Northern Ontario. However, your municipality or Municipal Fire Department may have their own fire ban or restrictions, be sure to check with them for any additional restrictions on open air burning in your area.
Yes, Conservation Officers continue to perform their duties to safeguard our natural resources and protect public safety.
Yes, a Conservation Officer is considered a provincial offences officer under Provincial Offences Act and can therefore issue fines under the EMCPA.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks has reopened all provincial parks and conservation for limited uses. For more information regarding Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves visit ofah.org/covid19closures.
Yes, although we recommend following the guidance from public health officials. Visit ofah.org/safetytips for advice on how to hunt and fish safely during the ongoing pandemic.
While some Emergency Orders are being lifted, the province’s Declaration of Emergency and associated measures have been extended until June 30.
For updates on closures and/or restrictions to outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
Last modified on June 19th, 2020 at 11:04 am.