The OFAH understands that the mounting uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on fishing and hunting in Ontario has raised many questions within the outdoors community, so with that in mind we have published a 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.
See below. If you didn’t see your question answered here, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this point, the Government of Ontario has not made any direct changes to fishing and hunting. There are, however, government Orders to close provincial parks and conservation reserves, prohibit Crown land camping, and shut down other recreational areas that have prompted many closures to lands, boat launches, and other publicly-accessible areas used for fishing 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 5 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.
At this point, there have been no changes to the moose draw and the application period is scheduled to be open from April 15 to June 1, 2020 as planned. If any delays, extensions or other changes are announced, then we will make sure to share it through OFAH e-news and social media as soon as it happens. You can sign up for OFAH e-news at www.ofah.org/enews.
The MNRF has said “We are looking into the issue of licences that were purchased but can’t be used due to local restrictions. We will have more information about this soon. Stay tuned!”.
There has been no indication of what would happen if fishing and hunting seasons were to be closed. 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/.
For the most part, Crown lands can be used the same way they were prior to COVID-19 measures being implemented. The Government of Ontario has prohibited camping on Crown land and closed all provincial parks and conservation reserves. For more details on these closures and changes to Crown land camping, 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, specific Crown land occupational authority like a Crown land lease or Land Use Permit is exempt from the Crown land camping prohibition ordered by the Government of Ontario. 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. Visit www.ofah.org/covid19closures. Many areas and access points have been shut down by municipalities, conservation authorities and other authorities in response the Government of Ontario’s Order to close.
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 deemed that some public areas need to be closed to reduce/eliminate the potential for social gathering, which has been interpreted by some municipalities and other land authorities to include publicly-accessible lands and access points for fishing and hunting like boat launches.
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 5 people and stay in accommodations where it is impossible to maintain proper social distancing. Additionally, COVID-19 related closures may limit where hunting can take place. 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 closed all provincial parks and conservation reserves under the authority of the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act. It is an offence to enter a provincial park or conservation reserve. For the OFAH’s list of closures 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.
On April 23rd, 2020, the provincial government extended all emergency orders until May 6th.
For updates on closures and/or restrictions to outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
Last modified on May 15th, 2020 at 3:30 pm.
Due to COVID-19, the OFAH has modified operations. Check ofah.org/covid19 for related updates and information. For any membership related questions or concerns please email email@example.com, If calling and leaving a message, your return call will be delayed during this COVID-19 pandemic.