The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is proposing regulatory amendments for furbearers and small game, including game reptile and game amphibian, under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The proposed changes will support the current ministry strategic direction towards taking a broader landscape approach to wildlife management. The draft Small Game and Furbearer Management Framework provides policy direction for these changes.
Currently, there are a significant number of unique regulations, some specific to small geographic areas that are no longer relevant in the context of modern, sustainable wildlife management.
The following regulatory changes are proposed for implementation in 2017:
1. Reduce the number of different seasons for small game and furbearers to embrace a broader landscape approach to wildlife management and to simplify regulations for hunters and trappers.
2. Streamline different daily bag and possession limits among species of small game to simplify regulations for hunters.
3. Streamline possession limits and some daily bag limits among small game hunters and those hunting with falconry birds.
4. Standardize the daily bag and possession limit for Ring-necked Pheasant. Daily bag and possession limits are proposed to be increased to 10 in all Wildlife Management Units, consistent with existing regulations permitting the release of up to 10 Ring-necked Pheasants.
5. Restrict snapping turtle harvest across Ontario in accordance with guidance provided by the draft Small Game and Furbearer Management Framework, in consideration of the biology of the species, and consistent with recommendations in the Proposed Management Plan for the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in Canada.
6. Modernize the description of areas where furbearing mammals may be trapped in Ontario to use existing Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) boundaries.
7. Modernize the description of areas where bullfrogs may be harvested in Ontario to implement bullfrog seasons consistent with a modern and streamlined approach to wildlife management (using existing WMUS boundaries).
8. Allow licensed non-residents to hunt rabbit and hare in the counties of Lambton, Kent, and the entire county of Essex. The existing restriction on non-resident small game hunters is no longer required.
9. Allow licensed non-residents to hunt raccoon at night. The existing restriction is no longer required for this activity.
10. Permanently eliminate the commercial bullfrog licence, in recognition of the existing provincial moratorium on the issuance of licences to capture or kill bullfrogs for sale (i.e. commercial bullfrog licence) that has been in place since 1999.
In addition to these proposed changes the ministry is committed to working with trappers, Indigenous communities and organizations, and stakeholders to examine ways to streamline the process to obtain a licence to possess a pelt.