Small Game Regulation Changes
UPDATE April 11, 2017: Rabbit and hare seasons restored in northern Ontario… for now. The MNRF reconsiders stance and brings back hunting seasons following pressure from OFAH and hunters. Read our press release here
The MNRF has updated and revised regulations for game birds, small game mammals, and furbearers in Ontario. Depending on where you hunt small game, it could mean changes to seasons, bag limits and/or hunting opportunities.
Updated opening and closing dates posted to the regulation HERE.
Examples of changes that were made:
- Snapping Turtle harvest is banned across all of Ontario.
- Ruffed Grouse daily bag and possession limits are 5 and 15 respectively for Wildlife Management Units 68, 73 to 76, 82 to 84.
- Ring-necked Pheasant daily bag and possession limits are 3 and 10 respectively for Wildlife Management Units 68, 69A, 70 to 94.
- An amendment to O. Reg. 666/98 will allow possession of an Otter pelt that is incidentally trapped (outside the open season for otter) during the open season for Beaver, without obtaining a licence to possess a pelt. Amended in response to comments received on the proposed (different) seasons for Otter and Beaver
- A consequential amendment to O. Reg. 667/98 was required to reflect the modernized approach of describing areas where furbearing mammals may be trapped in Ontario using existing Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) boundaries.
Additional positive changes for hunters:
- First and foremost, small game management is getting attention. This is a good thing and something the OFAH has been asking for the past decade
- The MNRF (at our request) attempted to simplify and standardize small game hunting regulations.
- Squirrel season extended in all WMUs with an open season (substantial increase in WMUs 93-95)
- Ruffed and Spruce Grouse seasons will now be open in many northern WMUs (1-4,16-18, 24-27) until March 31 (opposed to December 31)
- Rabbit and Hare seasons in many southern WMUs will now open Sept 25 (opposed to October openings)
- Raccoon season extended with an earlier opening of Oct. 5 (10 days) and later closing of Jan. 31 (16 days).
- Ptarmigan will now be open until March 31 in all WMUs with an open season (was December 15 in WMU 10 and December 31 in WMUs 2-9, 11-16, 19-21)
- We now also have a management Framework to set the stage for future small game management
- Hunters will benefit from more clear and consistent small game hunting regulations, but in some cases the MNRF’s attempts to streamline the regulations has come at the expense of sustainable hunting opportunities.
- The MNRF responded to some of the concerns from the hunting community and changed some of their regulation proposals to reflect this. This included ruffed grouse daily and possession limits (in WMUs 68,73-76,82-84), and restoring reduced daily limits for Ring-necked Pheasant (in WMUs 68,69A,70-94).
- To ensure that small game populations are sustainable
- To identify areas where research is needed on small game populations
- To simplify and standardize small game hunting to better serve hunters
- To help manage and prevent human-wildlife conflicts
- To engage hunters in collecting population and habitat information
PLEASE SHARE: MNRF changes closing date for small game hunting seasons for showshoe hares, cottontail rabbits & European Hares. pic.twitter.com/grwqXTUHG7
— OFAH (@ofah) March 31, 2017
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