Improvements to moose management as part of the Moose Management Review

ERO number
019-0405
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
August 12, 2019 - September 26, 2019 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
August 12, 2019
to September 26, 2019

Decision summary

Ontario has approved many of the proposed changes to moose management that are intended to make moose tag allocation fairer and more consistent for provincially licensed moose hunters, while helping to support the sustainability of moose populations.

Decision details

A decision was made on February 12, 2020 to proceed with the proposed policy and regulation changes as described, subject to changes noted below as a result of public consultation.

Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) and Ontario Regulation 670/98 (Open Seasons) under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act have been amended to implement the regulation changes described below.

Additional information is available at Ontario.ca/moose.

Approved changes for 2020

Calf harvest controls:

  • Calf tag quotas will be implemented in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 37, 40, 41, 42 and 47. A hunter must apply for and receive a calf tag through the draw to hunt a calf in one of these WMUs.
  • The hunting season for calf moose is being extended in all 9 WMUs with a calf tag quota (37, 40, 41, 42, 47, 48, 55A, 55B and 57). Calf tags issued through the tag draw will be valid for the full length of both the bow and gun seasons.

New bow season and quotas:

  • New bow hunting seasons and quotas have been created in WMUs 46, 47, 49, 50, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63. The southern Ontario bow hunting season for moose will be 7 days long and begin the first Saturday in October (WMUs 46-50, 53-63).
  • Separate tag quotas for bow and gun are being created in WMUs 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41 and 42 where separate bow hunting seasons already exist.

Approved changes for 2021

New selective harvest approach:

  • Moose harvest will be managed with 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 will be season-specific (i.e. bow or gun season), but calf tags could be used over the full length of the season within that WMU.

Moose hunting licence:

  • The moose hunting licence will change to a product that allows hunting of moose but does not come with a tag that would allow the harvest of a moose. The resident moose hunting licence fee will be reduced to $35. A hunter can purchase a moose hunting licence to party hunt with another tag holder but won’t be required to purchase a moose hunting licence to apply for a tag.

Preference point system for distributing tags:

  • A new point-based moose tag allocation approach will be implemented. The current moose tag draw will be replaced with a new point-based process as described in the proposal with the clarifications and minor modifications noted below made after consideration of comments received. A detailed description of the process will be available later in 2020 at Ontario.ca/moose.
    • Hunters will apply to the moose tag allocation process with a $15 application fee.
    • A hunter’s draw history will be used to determine the number of points they have accumulated (Note: this information will be made available to hunters later in 2020).
    • Points will be awarded based on the total number of years a hunter has applied and been unsuccessful in the draw. Continuous applications aren’t required. Being issued a bull or cow tag through the draw or receiving a tag transfer will reset a hunter’s points to zero in that year.
    • If a hunter claims a tag they are awarded through the allocation process they would be required to purchase a licence ($35) and their tag. Moose tags will be priced at $30 for calf tags, $150 for cow/calf tags and $200 for bull tags. These prices reflect hunter demand and ensure continued support for the management of this valuable resource. Non-residents will pay a higher moose licence fee and the same tag costs.

Elimination of special non-resident moose hunting opportunities:

  • Non-resident landowners and immediate relatives of Ontario residents will only be able to acquire their own tag to hunt moose by purchasing a hunt from a tourist outfitter. A non-resident who is an immediate relative of an Ontario resident who holds a moose tag may purchase a non-resident moose hunting licence to party hunt with their relative.

Other:

  • Hunters have expressed concerns about the timing of the gun hunting season for moose in southern Ontario since it was changed in 2017. These concerns were reiterated during consultation on the Moose Management Review changes and since. With the implementation of calf tag quotas across the province, the season will be shifted back to its previous start to begin the third Monday in October.

Proposed changes that were not approved:

  • More restrictive party hunting rules for moose hunters
    • After consideration of comments received, the current party hunting rules for moose hunters will be maintained.

Comments received

Through the registry

904

By email

45

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

The comments were generally supportive of the proposal.

Some concerns and suggestions raised in consultation were addressed in the approved changes. This included clarifications and minor modifications to the point-based tag allocation system, the decision not to proceed with more restrictive party hunting rules for moose hunters, and a change to the season timing for the southern gun hunting season for moose.

Supporting materials

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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Species Conservation Policy Branch - Wildlife Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0405
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

August 12, 2019 - September 26, 2019 (45 days)

Proposal details

Background

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.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Species Conservation Policy Branch - Wildlife Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from August 12, 2019
to September 26, 2019

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Office
Species Conservation Policy Branch - Wildlife Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number