MNRF reconsiders stance and brings back hunting seasons following pressure from OFAH and hunters
April 25, 2017
PETERBOROUGH — In case you missed it, while making broad changes to the small game hunting regulations that came into effect on April 1, 2017, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry closed the remainder of the 2017 rabbit and hare hunting seasons in northern Ontario, which were originally scheduled to close June 15. The announcement was made March 31 and the government provided no notice to hunters beyond an Environmental Registry posting of the immediate closure, effecting Wildlife Management Units 1-50 and 53-59.
After the decision was announced, the OFAH heard from many small game hunters who were directly affected. The mid-season changes resulted in hunters cancelling their plans and looking for answers to explain why their spring hunting traditions had been eliminated so abruptly. Minister Kathryn McGarry responded quickly to the concerns of the OFAH and the hunting community in signing a regulation recently that restored the remainder of this year’s rabbit and hare hunting seasons in northern Ontario on a temporary basis.
“Although this is a great first step for the minister to show she is listening to the concerns of northern hunters, the abrupt season closure for this year is only the start of the conversation. We want to have a discussion about how we can work towards a commitment to fully restore these important spring hunting traditions moving forward,” said Matt DeMille, OFAH manager of fish and wildlife services.
The changes will only remain in effect until June 15, 2017, with the season scheduled to end March 31 each year in the future.
The OFAH did not support the reduction in rabbit and hare hunting opportunities when proposed earlier this year because there is no evidence to suggest these hunting seasons are not sustainable.
While this will be a priority issue for the OFAH, it is important to recognize that there were many enhancements to small game hunting with the recent announcements.
“The OFAH has been pushing for modernized small game hunting regulations for many years. We are extremely pleased to see so many positive changes, and we don’t want this one issue to completely overshadow the rest,” said DeMille. “It is an important issue that needs to be resolved, but some of the MNRF’s recent changes give small game hunters many reasons to be optimistic about the future of small game hunting in Ontario.”
For more information on all the changes, visit www.ofah.org/smallgamechanges.
Follow the OFAH on social media for immediate updates on these issues and more.