This consultation was open from:
August 12, 2019
to September 26, 2019
We are proposing changes to improve how moose are managed, how moose tag quotas are developed, and how tags are distributed to provincially licensed moose hunters.
Ontario’s new Big Game Management Advisory Committee (BGMAC) was tasked with providing recommendations to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on moose management, with a focus on improving:
- the moose tag quota setting process
- the tag draw allocation approach
BGMAC worked with our ministry to conduct a survey of moose hunters and host a series of seven open house listening sessions in May-June 2019 to hear hunters’ concerns and thoughts on possible solutions.
BGMAC submitted a report to the Minister with 15 recommendations for improving moose management by:
- focusing on sustainability
- making tag allocation simpler, fairer and more consistent
- addressing a range of hunter concerns
The proposals presented below address aspects of moose management, tag allocation and hunting regulations and address five of BGMAC’s recommended actions. We will continue to work with BGMAC and act on their other recommendations.
Due to the significance of the proposed changes, and the time required to implement and properly communicate some aspects of the following proposals, we would implement these changes over a two-year period. We are seeking your input on the following changes.
Proposed for 2020
- Calf harvest controls: Implement interim calf tag quotas in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 37, 40, 41, 42 and 47. Calf harvest in these WMUs is currently affecting hunting opportunities for adult moose and is likely impacting recruitment and population growth, contributing to these populations being below the population objective ranges. With direct controls on calf harvest, the ministry would extend the calf hunting season to the full length of the moose hunting season. Calf tags in these five WMUs would be valid during both the bow and gun seasons.
- New bow season and quotas: Create early bow-specific seasons and quotas in WMUs with an open moose hunting season where they don’t currently exist (except far north WMUs). This proposal is intended to create additional moose hunting opportunities at the same level of harvest by converting a small number of gun hunting opportunities to bow hunting opportunities.
- Create separate tag quotas for bow and gun in northern WMUs where a bows-only season already exists (WMUs 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41 and 42)
- Create a one-week resident bows-only hunting season in southern WMUs where a bows-only season does not currently exist (WMUs 46, 47, 49, 50, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63), to match the current bows-only season in WMUs 48, 55A, 55B and 57
- Extend the current 6-day bow hunting season in southern Ontario by one day and shift the season to begin the first Saturday in October. Maintain the current one-week gun hunting season that is consistent across southern Ontario
- Create separate tag quotas for bow and gun seasons
Proposed for 2021
- New selective harvest approach: Modernize Ontario’s selective harvest approach to improve quota setting by moving to selective harvest by bull tags, cow/calf tags, and calf tags, with WMU-specific calf tag quotas across the province. A cow/calf tag could be used to harvest either a cow or a calf, a bull tag could only be used to harvest a bull moose and a calf-specific tag could only be used to harvest a calf. Bull and cow/calf tags would generally be season-specific (such as bow or gun season) but calf tags could be used at any time throughout the season. Hunters would apply for bull, cow/calf or calf tags through a proposed new allocation process (described below). A calf tag would no longer be included with a moose licence.
- Moose hunting licence: Change the moose hunting licence to a product that allows hunting of moose but does not come with a tag that would allow the harvest of a moose. This would allow applicants who are unsuccessful in, or who do not apply to, the tag allocation process to party hunt for moose on another hunter’s tag.
- Preference point system for distributing tags: Implement a new point-based moose tag allocation approach. The current moose tag draw would be replaced with a new point system that includes the following elements:
- Allow a hunter to apply to the moose tag allocation process with a modest application fee. The hunter would not be required to purchase their moose hunting licence to apply for a tag
- Eliminate the group application component of the allocation process. Each hunter would apply to the moose tag allocation process by themselves and be treated as an individual based on their own draw history
- Allocate tags to hunters based on the number of “preference points” a hunter has accumulated
- A hunter would receive a point for each year they have applied and been unsuccessful in the draw going back to when they first started applying or the last time they received/accepted a tag (such as were successful in the draw, received a tag through a transfer or through the surplus tag allocation)
- A hunter’s draw history would be used to determine the number of points they have accumulated (Note: this information would be made available to hunters in 2020)
- The northern resident draw would be eliminated but northern residents would receive one bonus preference point in any year they apply to a northern WMU (1-42). The northern resident preference point would not accumulate over time but would be an in-year additional point applied to their total points
- The hunters with the most points would receive the available tags for each WMU, season and moose type. When there are more hunters tied with a given number of points than tags available, a defined process will be used to allocate from amongst those hunters (e.g. a random draw)
- Once a hunter claims a tag they have been allocated in a point-based allocation step they would forfeit all their points
- A hunter would have the choice to not claim a tag they have been allocated and keep all their points.
- Tags would be allocated through a two-stage process
- Primary Allocation: In this first stage, the hunter could make up to three choices for WMU, moose and season type. If the hunter is successful and claims a tag they have been allocated at this stage they forfeit all their points. This stage would be completed, and the results communicated earlier than the current draw to allow hunters more time to plan for their hunt. Any tags that aren’t allocated at this stage would be publicized and hunters would be able to apply for them in the 2nd Chance Allocation.
- 2nd chance allocation: In this second stage, the hunter could make up to three choices for WMU, moose and season type for the remaining available moose tags. Tags that are applied for as part of a hunter’s first-choice would be based on points and if a hunter claims a tag they were awarded as their first choice they forfeit all their points. Tags that are applied for as part of a hunter’s second or third choices will be allocated through a random draw. These tags will not cost a hunter any of their points, as these tags were not allocated based on points.
- Note: the surplus tag allocation would be eliminated as part of this new process
- Note: If hunters can’t hunt or do not want to be allocated a tag in a given year they will have the opportunity to apply for a null selection to gain a point
- Moose tags would be sold separately from a moose hunting licence. If a hunter claims a tag they are awarded through the allocation process they would be required to purchase their tag. Tag prices will vary with bull tags priced highest, calf tags priced lowest and cow/calf tags priced in between.
- Tag transfer rules would be further restricted to address hunter concerns about “ghost” hunters (hunters who do not hunt moose but whose credentials are used by moose hunters to increase their chances of acquiring a tag), particularly with an application fee approach. Tag transfers would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
- Establish new, more restrictive party hunting rules for moose hunters to reduce tag fill rates, which would lead to more tags available and address concerns from some hunters about hunter conflicts sometimes associated with large hunting parties.
- Reduce the distance members of the hunting party can be from the tag holder from 5 km to 3 km
- Reduce party hunting size to maximum of 10 members that can hunt on a single tag
- Eliminate special moose hunting opportunities afforded to non-resident landowners and immediate relatives of Ontario residents licensed to hunt moose to better distribute limited moose hunting opportunities in a consistent and fair manner. Non-residents who are immediate relatives of an Ontario resident licensed to hunt moose will no longer be allowed to apply to the resident moose tag allocation process. Non-residents would have the opportunity to purchase a non-resident moose hunting licence without a tag to party hunt during a non-resident season with an immediate relative that holds a tag valid in that WMU. A non-resident would otherwise be required to acquire a tag (or be part of a party that acquires a tag) by purchasing a hunt from a tourist outfitter.
We intend to amend Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) and Ontario Regulation 670/98 (Open Seasons) under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to implement the proposal should it proceed. No additional opportunity for comments will be provided.
Other related efforts beginning 2020
- MNRF would begin communicating any approved changes to the allocation approach, including application and allocation process, hunter draw history and point totals.
- MNRF will continue working with BGMAC to address their other recommendations. Any additional policy or regulatory changes would be posted for consultation at a later date.
In a related posting, MNRF is also proposing changes to wolf and coyote hunting regulations in northern Ontario to address hunter concerns about the potential impacts of wolf predation on moose populations, consistent with BGMAC’s recommendations.
Public consultation opportunities
BGMAC worked with MNRF to engage with the public through:
- seven open house listening sessions across the province in May and early June
- a Moose Management Review survey that was available online and in paper form
The open houses and survey allowed hunters and others to:
- review information on moose management with a focus on quota setting and the draw
- share their thoughts on possible changes
Regulatory impact statement
The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are positive as there are several changes intended to support sustainable management of moose. In particular, implementing WMU-specific calf tag quotas provides us with direct control on calf harvest to support recruitment and population growth where necessary.
The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are positive. While some hunters will struggle with the significance of these changes, hunters have clearly said it is time for major changes to Ontario’s moose tag allocation approach and have urged us to take further action to restrict harvest of calf moose. If we decide to proceed with some, or all, of the proposed changes, hunters will have the opportunity to try the new approach. BGMAC has recommended that many of the changes be reviewed within three years to assess hunter satisfaction and make any necessary improvements.
The anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are neutral or positive. The outcome will be positive if these changes result in growth of moose populations and hunting opportunities. The proposed changes to the licence and tag fee structure, including the introduction of a modest fee to apply to the allocation process, would cost a hunter more in a year when they purchase a tag. However, the proposed approach may cost a hunter less over their moose hunting career if they only purchase a moose hunting licence when they or a party member are successful at receiving a tag through the allocation process and party members share tag costs.
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