The comments were overwhelmingly supportive of all the proposals, indicating general support for expanded hunting opportunities, fewer restrictions to participation for prospective turkey hunters, clarification of hunting rules and slightly expanding the types of ammunition being widely used in other jurisdictions for turkey hunting.
The primary concerns expressed in the comments focused on ensuring turkey hunting safety with elimination of the turkey hunter education course and the effectiveness of number 7 shot.
Ontario hunters are already required to complete comprehensive hunter safety training. When the turkey hunting season was first opened in 1987 the intention was to offer the course for a few years until hunters generally became more familiar with this new type of hunting. Incorporating safety information from the wild turkey course into the hunter education course will result in increased convenience and simplify requirements for turkey hunting, while maintaining key turkey hunting safety messages in the overall hunter education curriculum. In addition, information will be made available to all hunters who wish to learn more about turkey hunting safety.
Concerns about the use of shotgun shells with number 7 shot were based on uncertainty about the effectiveness for wild turkey harvest. Various tests have revealed that shotgun loads with number 7 shot perform as well as, and in some cases better than loads with sizes 4-6 shot.
Additional comments and concerns included ensuring that new hunting seasons did not pose a threat to sustainability and that the spring wild turkey hunting season should always be opened on the weekend to allow more people to participate on opening day. The approved hunting seasons are consistent with population management objectives outlined in Ontario’s turkey management plan. The change to a standard opening date for the spring hunting season of April 25th will result in the season opening on a weekend from time to time, whereas under the previous regulation the season always opened during the week (i.e. Monday through Friday).
The ministry will continue to monitor the outcome of these changes and turkey populations, and consider future management actions in accordance with policy in the turkey management plan. Any proposed changes to seasons and/or other regulations will be subject to public consultation.
The following web links provide additional supporting information.
• New hunting seasons for wild turkey in Ontario: http://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/turkey-season-changes-maps-final.pdf
• A link to the hunting regulation (665/98): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/980665
• A link to the open seasons regulation (670/98): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/980670