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Regulation Proposal Notice:   EBR Registry Number:   012-6073
Title:
Amendment to wolf and coyote hunting regulations in Northern Ontario under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997.
 
Ministry:
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
January 18, 2016
 
 

This notice was republished on January 18, 2016 to extend the comment period due to technical difficulties.

 
Keyword(s):   Fish and Wildlife
The comment period for this proposal is now over.
 
Description of Regulation:

Moose and wolves both play important roles in Ontario’s ecosystems and are integral components of the province’s rich biodiversity. Recent population surveys have shown declines in moose populations in many parts of northern Ontario. Populations of gray wolves and their hybrids in northern Ontario have been relatively stable.

The Moose Project is an effort being undertaken to further implement Ontario’s moose management policies that were approved in 2009, including developing new moose population objectives and exploring potential management actions to address concerns about moose populations.

Phase 1: Completed in early 2015 and resulted in the approval of two regulation changes intended to reduce calf harvest and push the start of the gun moose hunting season further from the key moose breeding period in late September and early October.

Phase 2: Initiated in summer 2015 with the posting of an Information Notice to gather further insights on moose population objectives and other potential management actions to address the broader range of factors affecting moose.

This ER proposal notice, along with two related proposals currently posted on the Environmental Registry, marks the final phase of consultation on the Moose Project.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has considered the input received to date and is now seeking comments on proposals to change wolf and coyote hunting regulations beginning in 2017. These proposed changes are intended to:
• address the concerns in recent years about the impacts of wolf predation on moose in northern Ontario,
• address concerns about the requirement to purchase a seal in northern Ontario,
• maintain controls necessary to ensure the sustainability of wolf and coyote populations in northern Ontario,
• not impact current protections for the Eastern wolf population in their core range in central Ontario.

The following change is proposed:

• Beginning in 2017, remove the game seal requirement for wolves and coyotes in northern Ontario, allowing hunting with a small game licence. In place of the two seal limit in northern Ontario, establish an annual harvest limit of two wolves per season. Coyote harvest would no longer be limited in northern Ontario.

Separating harvest limits for northern wolves and coyotes reflects current science showing that hunters can generally distinguish between northern wolves and coyotes in the wild. It will also allow additional hunting opportunities for coyotes which continue their expansion in northern Ontario and have been an increasing concern for livestock farmers.

As a consequence of this proposed change, a modified approach to hunter reporting is also required. Currently all wolf/coyote seal holders are required to report on their hunting activity and harvest. Since some wolf/coyote hunters would no longer require a seal it is proposed that reporting requirements change to include mandatory reporting of the harvest component only (rather than hunting activity), throughout all parts of northern and central Ontario where mandatory reporting is currently required.

The proposed changes would result in the following framework for wolf/coyote hunting in Ontario. Refer to the attached map for proposed areas. The proposed area boundary between the northern and central area is intended to maintain the existing protections within the known core range of Eastern wolf (primarily Algonquin Provincial Park and surrounding townships) in central Ontario.

Proposed Wolf/Coyote Regulations (2017)

Northern Area
• Season open September 15 - March 31
• No seal required, small game licence required to hunt wolves and coyotes
• Annual harvest limit of 2 wolves, coyote harvest not limited
• Mandatory reporting of harvested wolves and coyotes

Central Area
• Season open September 15 - March 31
• Seal required to hunt wolves and coyotes
• Limit of two seals for coyotes and wolves
• Mandatory reporting of harvested wolves and coyotes

Algonquin Provincial Park and surrounding townships (no changes)
• No season

Southern Area (no changes)
• Season open year-round
• No seal required, small game licence required to hunt wolves and coyotes
• No harvest limit
• No reporting required

Changes to Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) would be required to define the areas where a wolf/coyote game seal is no longer required, establish annual harvest limits for wolves and define mandatory reporting requirements for wolf and coyote harvest. The areas that maintain the current game seal requirements and limits for wolves and/or coyotes are Wildlife Management Units: 42, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57 and 58.

The proposed implementation date is spring 2017.

Purpose of Regulation:

To consult on a proposed amendment to wolf and coyote hunting seal requirements in Northern Ontario under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Other Information:

The following web links provide additional information.
• E-Laws – O. Reg. 665/98 (Hunting). The current regulatory provisions for wolf hunting are found in O. Reg 665/98 (https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/980665)
• A map of the proposed wolf/coyote management areas. https://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/proposed-wolf-coyote-management-areas-map.pdf

This regulation proposal is related to two other Moose Project proposals concurrently posted for comment:
• policy proposal #012-6074 seeking input on new moose population objectives
• regulation proposal #012-6075 seeking input on a proposal to enhance and streamline the moose hunting season in southern Ontario.

Background information available at 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
• Factors that Affect Moose Survival – https://www.ontario.ca/page/factors-affect-moose-survival
• Ontario’s moose management policies – www.ontario.ca/moose
• Moose Project Phase 1 decision notice – www.ontario/ca/environmentalregistry and search 012-3413
• Moose Project Phase 2 information notice – www.ontario/ca/environmentalregistry and search 012-4587

Public Consultation:

This proposal was posted for a 7 day public review and comment period starting January 18, 2016. Comments were to be received by January 25, 2016.

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.

Other Public Consultation Opportunities:

This proposal has been posted for 32 days for public review and comment period beginning December 17, 2015. Please submit comments by January 18, 2016 online, by email at mooseproject@ontario.ca, by phone or fax at the numbers listed to the right. Please note, all comments submitted during the consultation period will be reviewed and considered in the decision-making process.

The Ministry has engaged stakeholder organizations, tourist outfitters, Aboriginal groups and communities through a range of outreach efforts to gather their insights and input on factors affecting moose and potential management actions to support healthy moose populations. MNRF consulted on moose hunting season changes for northern Ontario in early 2015 and sought further input on other actions that could be taken to address moose population concerns through an Information Notice posted in summer 2015.

The ministry may conduct additional consultation through focused meetings with interested parties.

MNRF continues to welcome input on moose management at any time at mooseproject@ontario.ca

Regulatory Impact Statement:

The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are neutral. Ontario is home to healthy and sustainable wolf and coyote populations in northern Ontario. Harvest restrictions would be maintained for wolves using a slightly different approach, for harvest of coyotes. The proposed approach also retains existing protections for Eastern wolf in central Ontario, while recognizing additional changes may need to be considered at a future date in response to new information for Eastern wolf.

The anticipated overall social consequences of the proposal are also neutral. Some stakeholders have expressed concerns about the impacts of wolf predation on moose. These groups are likely to support the proposals, whereas some other stakeholders and members of the public may be opposed to any changes in wolf hunting regulations. Livestock farmers in northern Ontario are expected to appreciate changes to coyote hunting regulations.

The anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are neutral. The proposed changes may provide minor increases in northern Ontario.

 
Contact:

Wildlife Section
PUBLIC INPUT COORDINATOR
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Policy Division
Species Conservation Policy Branch
Wildlife Section
300 Water Street
Peterborough Ontario
K9J 8M5
Phone: (705) 755-1940
Fax: (705) 755-2901