OFAH Zone H Newsletter

OFAH ZONE H NEWSLETTER

September 2020

I hope everyone is well and practicing the provincial guidelines for Covid 19 .

It has been a while since our last meeting.  COVID – 19 has caused the cancellation of all scheduled OFAH  Zone meetings.

It has been agreed upon that the present slate of officers for Zone H will continue in their present capacity until regular elections can be held in the future.

The OFAH executive and board of directors has had to adapt to carry on with the legal and required business aspect of the organization during Covid-19.  Some OFAH Advisory Committees have continued to be actively engaged through virtual meetings.  Some members in regions across the province who without adequate internet service have experienced an inability to fully participate in said meetings.

OFAH Awards

The OFAH has released the names of the winners of awards for 2019.

The Mary Pickford Award for most conservation work by a club went to (no surprise) the Sydenham Sportsmans Club.  The OFAH Heritage Junior Conservation Award for most conservation work done by a junior member went to Jason Forgrave of the Barrie District Hunters & Anglers Conservation Club.  Congratulations to both recipients.

National Hunting Trapping Fishing Heritage Day & Camo Day

The OFAH continues to lead the charge to promote fishing, hunting and trapping across Canada, and we have been using the nationally-recognized day (September 19, 2020) as a means to positively profile our heritage and modern relevance to the rest of Canada. Be sure to celebrate, and wear your camo proudly on the OFAH-coined Camo Day (always the Friday before; September 18, 2020).

Licensing

The OFAH has become the go-to source for information on the MNRF’s new Fish and Wildlife Licensing System. Many in the angling and hunting community encountered issues related to mandatory reporting and the purchasing of licences in 2020. Be certain to check your Outdoor Card and licences for expiry dates.

PAL Backlog

The OFAH asked the federal government to implement a temporary solution(s) that will allow firearms owners with licences that expired during services interruptions due to COVID-19 to continue to hold a valid firearms licence until a time that the licence processing backlog can be resolved. The RCMP responded to our concerns clarifying that processed firearms licences were valid even if the individual didn’t have the physical card yet. The RCMP also informed us that they have resolved the backlogs and are now up-to-date (as of August 26).

Moose

As part of the Big Game Management Advisory Committee, OFAH wildlife biologist Dr. Keith Munro participated in the 2020 review of resident and tourism industry tag allocations. Staff continue to answer member questions related to the changes to moose hunting in the province being implemented in 2020 and 2021. In the run up to the 2021 application period, the OFAH will be making sure that hunters have all the information they need to navigate the new system.

New licensing for 2021

2020 calf season is the same as a full adult season  change for 2020.

2021 MOOSE SEASON OPENS ON THE 1ST MONDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING SUNDAY.

NO TRANSFER OF TAGS WILL BE ALLOWED AFTER 2020

NEW FEES FOR 2021

APPLICATION TAG                              $15.00

Resident Moose License                      35.00

Non Resident License                          470.00

Resident Bull Tag                                 200.00

Resident Cow/Calf Tag                         150.00

Calf Tag                                                   30,00

GROUP HUNTING WILL BE ALLOWED AS LONG AS EVERYONE IN THE GROUP HAS A CALF TAG.

Black Bear

In March, the MNRF announced they are bringing back the regular annual spring black bear season starting in 2021, in addition to some other changes to bear hunting in the province. The return of the spring bear hunt caps off 20 years of OFAH advocacy. The MNRF also announced that they are reducing the spring bear season on the Bruce Peninsula (WMU 82A, 83, and 84) to just one week (May 1-7) and cancelling the fall season to address concerns about a declining population on the Peninsula, which is isolated from bears in the rest of the province. The OFAH wants to ensure that a healthy black bear population remains on Bruce Peninsula while at the same time making sure that sustainable hunting opportunities are not being left on the table. We will be pushing the MNRF to collect additional data to determine the status of the population and the impact of the reduced hunting seasons. We’ll also be pushing them to not just focus on hunter harvest but also address other things that are contributing to the population decline such as habitat loss.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD)

The MNRF has proposed new rules to prevent CWD from entering Ontario. Most importantly, they propose to clamp down on how and where the deer farming industry can move live captive deer. These changes are almost exactly what the OFAH proposed in response to the 2018 CWD cases in Quebec. This is a major win for the OFAH and gives us a real chance of keeping CWD out of Ontario. OFAH made an official submission and mobilized our broader (international) advocacy network through the Canadians concerned About CWD and the CWD Coalition to ensure that these changes are adopted.  The 2020 MNRF CWD Surveillance Program will be conducting monitoring this fall in WMUs 65, 92B, 92C, 93A, 93B, 93C, 94A, and 94B. The OFAH encourages all hunters in those units to submit samples from any adult deer they harvest this fall. We play a critical role in keeping Ontario CWD-free by making sure that if it arrives, it is detected as soon as possible.

Wild Pigs

The OFAH is working hard to ensure that wild pigs don’t become established in Ontario. OFAH staff continue to participate in Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Invasive Wild Pig Working Groups.  In addition to helping prevent the spread of wild pigs, we are actively working to position the OFAH as a leader in this field to an international audience of stakeholders, decision makers, and wildlife managers.

Wild Turkey

The MNRF posted a proposal to open fall wild turkey seasons in wildlife management units (WMU) 72 and 95 starting in 2020. We submitted an official response supporting these new seasons and the sustainable hunting opportunities they provide, as well as expressing an interest in having a broader discussion of wild turkey management in the province.

Wolf and Coyote

Following a discussion with OFAH, the MNRF amended the hunting regulation as it relates to wolf and coyote hunting. As of April 1, 2020, a new section in the regulations will enable hunters:  to possess and use a centre-fire rifle; or shells loaded with ball or shot larger than number two shot while hunting small game during a big game season, so long as they have either a valid licence for the species of big game that has an open season in the area and at the time the person is hunting; or a valid licence to hunt wolf or coyote and are hunting wolf or coyote under the authority of that licence. These changes mean that participation in wolf and coyote hunting is not tied to the possession of valid big game hunting licences. These restrictions remain in place when hunting other species of small game such as rabbits.

Double-crested Cormorant Hunting Season

The MNRF announced a fall hunting season for double-crested cormorants that aligns with existing migratory bird hunting seasons and a 15-bird limit. This came after decades of the OFAH advocating for cormorant control and MNRF made some specific changes based on concerns and comments to their original hunting season proposal. The OFAH covered this important step in an email to members, on http://www.ofah.org, and in various media outlets.

Sandhill Cranes

Staff continue to work on a proposal for a sandhill crane hunting season to be submitted in 2021. The OFAH continues to push for the consistent management of these birds, whose healthy populations can support sustainable hunting opportunities.

Additions to the Invasive Species Act

The MNRF requested feedback on adding wild pigs and boats (as a pathway) to the Invasive Species Act.  These additions would allow the MNRF to respond to wild pigs in the province much more easily and efficiently as well as reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species spread through boating. The OFAH supported these additions but provided recommendations on how to do it in a way that would have the best chances of reducing invasive species impacts while also working with the hunting and angling community. Ensuring that anglers were not going to be faced with unrealistic expectations for cleaning their boats between use was a priority for the OFAH when offering feedback.

Northern Bobwhite Government Response Statement

The Ontario government published their government response statement for Northern Bobwhite, which outlines how they plan on recovering the species in Ontario. The OFAH provided recommendations to improve outcomes for Northern Bobwhite by working with hunters in a similar way that Wild Turkeys were reintroduced. The OFAH sees this as an excellent opportunity for hunters to get involved in another successful wildlife recovery story, while also hopefully leading to an additional hunting opportunity in the future.

Crown Land Use Policy Atlas

The OFAH drafted a letter to the MNRF regarding the functionality of their online interactive mapping applications, specifically the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas (CLUPA). The letter outlines the features in the CLUPA that should be improved in order to provide anglers and hunters (and many other outdoor recreationists) with a more useful tool. In particular the OFAH pushed for the inclusion of Crown land in Southern Ontario in the CLUPA and we recommended that they roll several current mapping applications (Fish ON-Line, natural heritage, etc.) in to a single application. The goal is to make it as simple as possible for anglers and hunters to locate areas in Ontario where they can go to enjoy their sport.

Snowshoe (Varying) Hare

OFAH staff continue to push for an extension to the snowshoe hare season in Northern Ontario. We identified this as a priority in our June 29 th letter to Premier Ford.

Walleye Management and Salmonid Stocking

The OFAH continues to be an active participant in the Walleye management and salmonid stocking plans for the Ontario waters of Lake Huron. In mid-March, the members of the FMZ 13 &14 Advisory Councils received a report on the discussions that took place at the 2019 fall workshop. In order to move forward, a video conference with the MNRF and the workshop facilitators was held to discuss the following draft reports: 1) Non-Native Salmonid Stocking in Ontario Waters of Lake Huron: Background Report; and, 2) Report of the Status of Walleye in the Ontario Waters of Lake Huron. We will continue to be involved in these fisheries management discussions for these valuable sportfish species.

TC Energy Pumped Storage Project

TC Energy is proposing to develop an energy storage facility north of Meaford using a process known as pumped storage with water pumped from Georgian Bay to an elevated reservoir, where drained water would go through a system of turbines to generate electricity. The OFAH is actively engaged and attended a public meeting to gather additional insight, and will continue to keep a close eye on the project.  The public and OFAH members are concerned about potential impacts to the environment and local fishery.

Community Hatchery Program

Since March, the OFAH has secured almost $1.5 million in funding for conservation programming from government and private companies to continue the Community Hatchery Program, Invading Species Awareness Program, Bring Back the Salmon, and Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Peterborough.

These programs are working to fight back against harmful invasive species like Asian carps, restore fish and wildlife habitats, and keep fishing and hunting strong in Ontario.  More than half of program funding additions will support the efforts of volunteer community hatcheries like Georgian Triangle Anglers Association, Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, Bruce Peninsula

Sportsmen’s Association, Lake Huron Fishing Club, Maitland Valley Anglers, and Bayfield Anglers Association to raise fish for the next three years. In 2020, the CHP was awarded with the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Doug Clarke Memorial Award for ‘outstanding conservation project in 2019’, and worked to ensure funding could support ongoing costs (rent, insurance, hydro) for hatcheries even if they were not able to operate due to COVID-19.

Contribution by:        Matt DeMille  OFAH Manager Fish And Wildlife Services
Jack Osadzuk
Wally Motz
Mike Evers

Yours in Conservation;
Wayne Forgrave
Chair – OFAH Zone H