Moose play an important role in Ontario’s ecosystems and are an integral component of the province’s rich biodiversity. Moose contribute economic and ecological benefits to the people of Ontario, and are highly valued by Aboriginal Peoples. Recent population surveys showed declines in moose populations in many parts of northern Ontario, a trend also being seen in other North American jurisdictions.
The Moose Project was undertaken to explore potential management actions to address or mitigate pressures on moose populations such as harvest, predation, parasites, climate and changing habitat. During the first phase of consultations, opportunities for early action to support healthy and resilient moose populations in Ontario were identified. In response, as an initial step and beginning in 2015, the following moose harvest management strategy is being proposed: limiting the calf moose hunting season across northern Ontario to a two week period.
In addition, Ontario will continue to extend opportunities to discuss new moose population objectives and, based on input received, will address the broader range of pressures on the moose population (such as climate change, diseases and interactions with other species (i.e., deer, bear and wolf populations)). There will be further opportunity to discuss and comment on additional actions in coming months.
Harvest management strategy proposed for implementation beginning in 2015:
• Establish a two-week resident and non-resident open hunting season for calf and adult moose across northern Ontario, beginning on the Saturday closest to October 22; all allowable firearms (as per existing seasons) could be used during this season. Outside of this two-week season, calf moose could not be harvested. Hunting for an adult moose would still be permitted for the remainder of the open season with a valid moose licence and in accordance with existing rules.
For implementation in 2016:
• Delay the start of resident and non-resident moose hunting seasons across much of northern Ontario by one week.
To implement the proposed changes, amendments to various regulations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) would be required to establish new seasons based on age or other factors, change the seasons for resident and non-resident moose hunting and make associated consequential amendments:
A) In Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1A, 1C, 1D, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7A, 7B, 8, 9A, 9B, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, 13, 14, 15A, 15B, 16A, 16B, 16C, 17, 18A, 18B, 19, 21A, 21B, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42
i. establish an open season for calf and adult moose which would begin the Saturday closest to October 22 and end on the second following Friday, in any year; all allowable firearms could be used during this season.
B) Beginning in 2016, change the opening date of the resident and non-resident moose hunting seasons in WMUs 5, 6, 7A, 7B, 8, 9A, 9B, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, 13, 14, 15A, 15B, 19, 21A, 21B, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42 to begin one week later.
To consult on proposed amendments to moose hunting regulations as part of the Moose Project, in order to support healthy and resilient moose populations that provide ecological, social, economic and cultural benefits to the people of Ontario.
The following web links provide additional (or supporting) information:
• E-Laws – O. Reg. 665/98 (Hunting). The current regulatory provisions regarding the hunting of moose and other big game species are found in O. Reg. 665/98.
• E-Laws – O. Reg. 670/98 (Open Seasons – Wildlife). The current regulatory provisions regarding open seasons for moose and other game species are found in O. Reg 670/98.
• A table of the Proposed Open Moose Hunting Seasons for 2015. http://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/2015-proposed-moose-seasons.pdf
• A table of the Proposed Open Moose Hunting Seasons for 2016. http://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/2016-proposed-moose-seasons.pdf
Background information available at www.ontario.ca/moose:
• Moose Resource Reports providing information on the status and health of moose populations, as well as basic information on: moose policy and management, habitat, trends in moose hunters, tag quotas and licensed harvest.
• Cervid Ecological Framework which provides strategic policy for how moose, deer and elk are managed in relation to each other, including broad population and habitat guidance.
• Moose Management Policy and Moose Harvest Management Guidelines that provide an overview of the range of harvest management actions and tools that can be employed to help meet ecologically-based moose population goals.
This proposal was posted for a 31 day public review and comment period starting February 06, 2015. Comments were to be received by March 09, 2015.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.
The Ministry has engaged stakeholder groups, as well as members of the public with a range of interests related to moose (e.g., hunting, tourism operations, business owners) through a series of meetings in order to gather their insights and input on factors affecting moose populations and potential management actions to support healthy moose populations and provide benefits to Ontarians.
A random sample of 2,700 resident moose hunters across the province was also surveyed to help determine hunter activities and opinions towards moose populations and changes to hunting regulations, and to assess the economic aspects of moose hunting.
As part of the ongoing Moose Project, there will be further opportunities for public input as moose population objectives are considered and other potential management actions to address the pressures facing moose are considered for future implementation.
The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are positive. It is intended to mitigate pressures on the moose population to ensure it remains healthy and resilient. The proposed harvest management strategy changes are consistent with Ontario’s mandate related to the sustainable management of Ontario’s natural resources.
The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are neutral. The proposed harvest management strategies are included as available tools in Ontario’s Moose Harvest Management Strategy Guidelines (2009), developed in consultation with the public.
The ministry has also recently engaged stakeholders, Aboriginal groups and communities and the public in discussions about potential management actions; in particular, the proposed shortened calf moose season was generally supported as a way to help address moose population concerns without significantly restricting overall moose hunting opportunities available. Over the longer term, the anticipated social consequences of the proposal will be positive as it is intended to mitigate pressures on the moose population to ensure it remains healthy and resilient.
The anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are generally neutral. A shortened calf moose season and shortened adult moose season in parts of Ontario do not significantly restrict overall hunting opportunities available, although they may shift the timing of hunting activity by hunters or a reduction in the number of days hunted. As such, these strategies are not anticipated to significantly impact economic benefits associated with hunting activity, and are not expected to significantly impact the tourist industry. Over the longer term, the anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are expected to be positive as it is intended to mitigate pressures on the moose population to ensure it remains healthy and resilient.