Doing the right thing this spring – OFAH advice to anglers and hunters in challenging times
The OFAH urges all anglers and hunters to fully cooperate and adhere to all emergency measures to help slow the spread and protect Ontarians from COVID-19. Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 information page here and the Government of Canada’s page here to ensure that you are fully informed on the latest developments and guidelines related to COVID-19. Not abiding by these measures can come with significant fines and penalties, and can also reflect negatively on the fishing and hunting community.
The province is currently urging people to stay home except for trips for essentials such as groceries and medicine. This restriction is not mandatory at this point, but Premier Ford has been clear it could happen if people do not voluntarily stay home, practice proper physical distancing, and abide by the emergency measures.
As much as we all want to see fishing and hunting continue this spring so anglers and hunters can take advantage of the physical and mental health benefits these activities bring, in this public health emergency they can only take place within guidelines provided by public health officials. We want the outdoors community to be a part of the solution to help save lives, protect our economy, and regain some normalcy in our lives as soon as possible.
The province has introduced emergency measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and this impacts fishing and hunting in the following ways:
- The closure of all provincial parks and conservation reserves
- The closure of all outdoor recreational amenities, which has prompted the closure of many municipal boat launches and other publicly accessible lands
- Prohibiting gatherings of more than five people
- Closure of non-essential workplaces, including many retailers who sell goods and licences to anglers and hunters
Because COVID-19 related closures are happening rapidly, we have created the website www.ofah.org/covid19closures to help our members keep track. This is not a complete list and we ask that anglers and hunters share any additional closures they are aware of. Information can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advice from Anglers and Hunters to Anglers and Hunters
As anglers and hunters, we need to do our part to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. We were all looking forward to this spring and now COVID-19 means that we may have to compromise on our spring fishing and hunting plans. If you are still able to go hunting and fishing in your area, here’s what you can do to stay safe in addition to strict adherence to provincial health guidelines:
- Reduce the Risk – Hunting and Fishing Can Wait
Anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) should self-isolate immediately.
The province strongly recommends that people over 70 years old or who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions self-isolate.
Hunting and fishing can wait until you are not putting yourself or the public at risk. Stay home.
- Any Hunting and Fishing Should Be Local
Hunt and fish as absolutely local as possible. Do not travel long distances and don’t make any unnecessary trips or stops along the way.
- Conserve Our First Responder Resources
Please remember any preventable accident requiring medical attention or an emergency services response, no matter how minor, will place you, healthcare workers, and/or first responders at additional risk. Our healthcare system is under tremendous strain at the moment, and space and services may be limited. Be safe.
- Stay Away From Others
Maintain physical distancing (at least 2 metres) at all times. If areas you had planned to visit are in heavy use, making physical distancing impossible, go elsewhere.
- Be In the Know If You Decide To Go
Before you go anywhere, check on the operational status or restrictions at any land, parking area, access point, or boat launch you’re intending to use. Closures and restrictions are not consistent across the province, so we’ve started a list to help keep track of them – visit ofah.org/covid19closures
- Try Private Land First if Possible
While we recognise that not everyone has access to private land, if you do, try there before venturing into public areas as they may be far too busy, or in many cases, closed.
Contact your private landowner prior to the season. Ask your landowner what works best to keep everyone safe while enjoying permission to access private land. The OFAH has an electronic landowner permission form that you can use https://www.ofah.org/fishing-hunting/hunting/