The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) works to promote healthy, sustainable ecosystems and conserve biodiversity and provides opportunities for sustainable outdoor recreation such as hunting and fishing. To provide Ontarians and non-residents with the opportunity to participate in recreational hunting or fishing, an electronic system to issue and administer licences was adopted in 2009.
Ontario is developing a new hunting and fishing licensing system as part of the ministry’s ongoing commitment to enhance service delivery to clients. The new licensing system is anticipated to be implemented in late 2018/early 2019. As part of the renewal of Ontario’s hunting and fishing licensing system, the ministry is considering a number of changes related to hunting and fishing licensing to modernize licensing products and approaches, improve client services, and ultimately support sustainable fish and wildlife management.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (FWCA), and its regulations, provide the legal framework for the conservation and management of fish and wildlife in Ontario. Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) and Ontario Regulation 664/98 (Fish Licensing) specify the rules associated with hunting, fishing and applicable licensing.
The number and type of fishing and hunting licence products has increased over time. Over the past several years, the ministry has received feedback from clients suggesting that the current hunting and fishing licensing approach is overly complex and confusing in some cases. In addition, the ministry has heard feedback from some clients suggesting the need to better leverage existing technology to provide better and more accessible service to clients. Many of the proposed changes below have been developed in response to this feedback.
The following amendments are being proposed to Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) and Ontario Regulation 664/98 (Fish Licensing) to support the renewal of Ontario’s hunting and fishing licensing system. Note: consequential amendments to additional regulations under the FWCA would be required if the proposals below are implemented.
Outdoors Card Modernization
• Amend regulations to create a single Outdoors Card, which would eliminate the different versions of Outdoors Card (e.g. H1, H2, Fishing). Select licences would still be available to be printed on the Outdoors Card, which would continue to function as sufficient proof of the licence(s) issued to a client.
• Amend regulations to clarify the requirement for residents to carry a proof of successfully completing the non-restricted Canadian Firearms Safety Course if an individual is hunting or trapping with a gun (e.g. Firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence, Minor’s Licence, Canadian Firearms Safety Course Report indicating a successful pass).
• Amend regulations to clarify the requirement for non-residents to carry proof of Canadian Firearms Program licensing if an individual hunting or trapping with a gun (e.g. Firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence, Non-Resident Firearm Declaration, Temporary Firearms Borrowing Licence for Non-Residents).
• Hunter accreditation (and apprentice hunter status, if applicable) would be maintained in the new licensing system as a means of determining if an individual is permitted to buy hunting licences and apply to draws.
• This proposed change is expected to simplify licensing and improve client service (e.g. eliminate the need for clients to get a new Outdoors Card upgrade if they get their hunter accreditation or change their hunting class from H2 to H1), as well as reducing costs associated with maintaining and producing multiple versions of the Outdoors Card.
• Simplify the regulations and reduce the number of components that make up a licence, reflecting a modernized approach to licensing by creating a single licence document that would list all of the clients’ valid licences. These changes would help to reduce the many different types and formats of hunting and fishing licences, and allow for licences to be self-printed at a client’s home if they desire.
• As part of this proposal, clients would have the option of having their licence document delivered to them digitally (e.g. email) and allow them to maintain the document in a digital format (e.g. on a smartphone), which would eliminate the need to print the licence document for those clients that would prefer to maintain a digital copy.
• The printed paper copy of the licence document would continue to be maintained for those clients who prefer to have a hardcopy of their licences in hand. The system would allow for the licence document to be printed or reprinted by the client or by request at a licence issuer location (e.g. following the purchase of a licence or prior to going fishing or hunting).
• This proposed change is expected to reduce the complexity associated with the current hunting and fishing licensing approach (e.g. would reduce the number of licence documents that need to be printed and carried by clients), as well as reduce costs associated with producing and delivering multiple types of hunting and fishing licences.
Game Seal Modernization
• Amend regulations to modernize the approach to hunting ‘game seals’. This change would transform the way that ‘game seals’ are used, how they function and are delivered to clients.
• As part of this proposal, ‘game seals’ would be replaced by ‘Tags’, which the client could self-print from their own computer or potentially be printed by a licence issuer through the new licensing system.
• The new licensing system would provide the relevant ‘Tags’ to each hunter according to their purchased licences and draw results.
• Hunters would continue to be required to carry their relevant ‘Tags’ with them when hunting and would need to notch the ‘Tag’ at time of harvest.
• Under this proposed approach, hunters would need to attach the ‘Tag’ to the harvested animal if they were no longer accompanying the animal (e.g. transferring to another person, leaving unattended at hunt camp, etc.). In these cases, the client would be required to ensure it remains intact and readable for compliance and field enforcement purposes. There are a number of tag holding products available to hunters to assist with protecting their ‘Tag’.
• In addition, the ministry would restructure and re-label select licence products in regulations to reflect this new approach and reduce duplication in some licence products (e.g. wild turkey licence would become a wild turkey ‘Tag’ issued under a Small Game Licence, wolf/coyote game seal would become a wolf/coyote ‘Tag’, etc).
• This proposed change is expected to improve client service and modernize service delivery related to the issuance of game seals/tags (e.g. no longer require clients to visit licence issuer in person in some cases, provide full online service, less reliance on paper-based approach and postal services), as well as reducing costs related to printing, mailing, print machines and paper stock at licence issuers. • •More information is available below through the link under “Other Information”
Hunter-Harvest Reporting Modernization
• Amend regulations to modernize hunter-harvest reporting, which includes changes to mandatory reporting requirements, deadlines for reporting, and the consequences of not completing mandatory reporting requirements. The following regulatory changes are proposed:
„« Require all hunters (licence and/or tag holders depending on the species) to provide information on hunting activity and harvest for black bear, moose, elk, white-tailed deer, wild turkey and wolf/coyote (where tags/seals are required).
„« Maintain regulatory requirements for tourist outfitter and non-resident hunter reporting where they exist and establish reporting requirements in regulation where they don’t currently exist.
„« Establish more consistent reporting timelines across species that allow hunters adequate time to return from their hunt and provide their report, while requiring data to be submitted in a timely manner to ensure data quality and support timely harvest planning.
„« Implement a more efficient and effective tracking scheme that is administered automatically by the new licensing system. Under the new scheme, a hunter who does not complete a mandatory report may not be eligible to purchase a licence (or licences) in a future year. The ministry would implement a phased-in approach to ensure that the public is properly informed. This scheme would be in addition to existing set fines for non-reporting offences that could also be applied in some circumstances.
• Other specific changes would include eliminating the following reporting requirements that are no longer necessary:
„« reporting requirement for regulated hunting camp licence holders in the Geographic Townships of Bruton and Clyde, and
„« mandatory registration (i.e. check station) requirement for individuals that harvest a moose in controlled calf moose harvest management units.
• Related non-regulatory changes being pursued include eliminating mailing of questionnaires and moving to electronic reporting channels (i.e. telephone, online and possible mobile app), improved communications with hunters including reminders, and considering possible incentives to encourage reporting.
• These proposed changes to hunter-harvest reporting are expected to improve client service by establishing greater consistency in reporting timelines and making the submission of reports more accessible and easier for clients to complete. These proposed changes are also expected to improve hunter reporting rates and allow for more timely harvest planning, which will improve the ministry’s management program.
• More information is available below through the link under “Other Information”
Hunter Apprenticeship Program Modernization
• Amend regulations to modernize and enhance the Hunter Apprenticeship Program by requiring apprentice hunters to obtain an Outdoors Card and allowing them the option of purchasing hunting licences or tags that are not obtained through a draw (e.g. small game licence, wild turkey tag, antlered deer licence). This would allow apprentice hunters to have the option of hunting under their own licence/bag limit or continuing to hunt under their mentor’s licence/bag limit.
• In the proposed approach, the existing Hunter Apprenticeship Card would be replaced by an Outdoors Card. All other existing rules associated with apprentice hunters would remain unchanged (e.g. apprentice hunters would still be required to hunt under the direct and immediate supervision of a mentor and share a single firearm with a mentor).
• Under this proposal, the ministry is also proposing to maintain the requirement for parental/guardian consent to obtain an Outdoors Card for 12 to 15 year olds, but will no longer require the submission of multiple parental/guardian consent forms for each activity throughout the Hunter Apprentice Program (e.g. currently parental/guardian consent forms are submitted to obtain a Hunter Apprenticeship Card, obtain/upgrade an Outdoors Card, and purchase a hunting licence for each species).
• This proposed change is expected to simplify the licensing approach for apprentice hunters and provide additional opportunities for them to safely develop their hunting skills while under the direct and immediate supervision of a qualified mentor. In addition, it is expected to eliminate the administrative costs of maintaining separate hunter identification cards for apprentice hunters, and repurpose those savings to other areas within the fish and wildlife program.
Hunter Accreditation Streamlining
• Amend regulations to streamline the qualification requirements for Ontario residents and non-residents to obtain an Outdoors Card to reflect potential changes associated with the proposal noted above on ‘Outdoors Card Modernization’ (e.g. elimination of multiple classes and versions).
• As part of this proposal, the ministry would also allow non-resident hunters who are moving into Ontario (i.e. becoming Ontario resident hunters) the ability to provide proof of their existing hunter accreditation and not require them to complete the Ontario Hunter Education Program or challenge the exam provided they have proof of hunter education certification, accreditation or appropriate licensing from a Ministry approved jurisdiction that meets Ontario’s hunter education standards.
• The ministry would continue with the current approach of accepting a certification, accreditation or licensing from a Ministry approved jurisdiction for those non-residents who are temporary visiting hunters.
• This proposed change is expected to simplify the licensing approach for Ontario resident and Non-Resident hunters. In addition, this proposal would improve consistency with many other jurisdictions across North America for accepting hunting accreditation from individuals from other jurisdictions where they are consistent with Ontario’s hunter education standards.
Hunting Licence Enhancements
• Hunting Dog Licensing:
„« Amend regulations to exempt the requirement for a Dog Licence for tracking dogs that are retrieving/tracking a lawfully wounded elk, moose or deer if the tracking dog is kept on a leash that has a maximum length of 10 metres and under the physical control of the dog handler.
„« Amend regulations to exempt the dog handler who is tracking a lawfully wounded elk, moose or deer from the requirement for a hunting licence if they are not in possession of a firearm, they are accompanied by a hunter that has a licence and associated tag for the animal being retrieved/tracked, and have physical control of a tracking dog that is kept on a leash that has a maximum length of 10 metres.
„« Under this proposal, the current approach of three separate dog licences (i.e. moose/deer, bear and raccoon) would be combined into a single Dog Licence that would be required for each dog that a hunter is using for hunting moose, deer, black bear or raccoon.
„« All other aspects of hunting with a dog would remain unchanged as part of this proposal.
„« This proposed change is expected to simplify and streamline the dog licensing approach for hunting.
• Licensing Requirements to Hunt on a Game Bird Hunting Preserve
„« Amend regulations to allow both resident and non-resident hunters to hunt on a licensed game bird hunting preserve with a valid Outdoors Card and hunter accreditation. Hunters would continue to be required to provide proof of their hunter accreditation and firearms licensing to the operator of the game bird hunting preserve.
„« This proposed change would eliminate the need for a ‘Small Game Licence’ or ‘Non-Resident Game Bird Hunting Preserve Licence’ to hunt on a game bird hunting preserve in Ontario.
„« Under this proposal, the ministry would also make changes to the ‘Licence to Own and Operate a Game Bird Hunting Preserve’ by adding Gray (Hungarian) Partridge to the list of eligible game bird species, and clarify that only ‘game bird’ species specified on the licence may be hunted on the preserve.
„« This proposed change is expected to remove a licensing burden and establish greater consistency in the licensing approach for individuals who wish to hunt on a licensed game bird hunting preserve.
Fish Licensing Enhancements
• Deemed Residency for Acquiring a Recreational Fishing Licence
„« Amend regulations to deem some individuals and their immediate family members to be residents of Ontario when residing here for 1 month for the purposes of obtaining a resident Recreational Fishing Licence (and Outdoors Card).
„« This proposed change recognizes common circumstances where an individual whose duties place them in Ontario for an extended period may be deemed to be a resident (i.e. Canadian Forces or Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel).
„« This approach is consistent with many other provinces and countries, and addresses a historic discrepancy between the approach taken for who qualifies as a deemed resident for hunting and fishing licences in Ontario.
• Non-Canadian Youth Fishing at Organized Camps
Amend regulations to simplify and streamline the licensing approach for non-Canadian youth fishing at an organized camp.
„« As part of this proposal, the ministry would eliminate the existing organized camp leader permit and associated youth fishing licences for the organized camp.
„« In place, the ministry would deem camp issued documentation combined with government issued identification (or photocopy thereof) as a licence to fish for non-Canadian youth (under 18 years old) who are guests at an organized camp.
„« The ministry would establish rules in regulation that specify the information the camp documentation must contain (i.e. campers’ name, date of birth, name of organized camp, dates during which the youth is a guest at the organized camp).
„« Under this proposed approach, ‘conservation fishing limits’ would apply to non-Canadian youth who are guests at an organized camp.
„« The proposed change is expected to remove a licensing burden and simplify the approach to non-Canadian youth fishing at an organized camp.
Associated procedures and business processes would be updated to reflect the proposed changes noted above if approved.