The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the province’s largest sportsman group, disagrees with the changes for moose hunting.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) represents over 100,000 sportsman. The senior biologist for OFAH Mark Rykman said, “I’m sure there is going to be quite a bit of disappointment.”
Originally, the group was outspokenly opposed to Ontario’s proposition to cut the number of tags, reduce the calf season and delay the season opener. According to the group, public opinion was in line with their oppositions. However, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has chosen to implement them anyway.
“In 2014, adult validation tags were reduced by 18 per cent and the result was 6000 fewer licensed hunters,” said Ryckman.
One of the probable effects of these changes is where people will hunt. Hunters are likely to chose to hunt in Quebec or Newfoundland instead while others may give up moose hunting altogether.
“In 2015, we are being hit with an additional 15 percent tag reduction”, said Rykman.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have been aware of the decline in moose populations for over 10 years but have not previously addressed the issue with cuts to hunting. This move was made as a reaction to the population estimates that show a decline, however no other management practices to help moose have been implemented or released for public information.
Many hunters suggest increasing the opportunities for wolf and bear hunting in order to help moose. Wolves and bears and the primary predators of moose and kill a substantial number of moose calves every year. The wolf and bear populations are growing while the moose populations are declining. Sportsman’s advocates suggest a balance or these populations would benefit each species.
Moose hunting opponents suggest closing the season altogether or implementing additional regulations. However, opponents have not offered any other solutions to increase moose populations.
These new laws go into effect immediately and will impact the 2015 season. Ontario has a large outfitting industry that attracts non-resident and resident hunters alike. These businesses are going to see reduced income this year. In some more remote areas of the province residents rely on the annual meat harvest for food to sustain their families. Some of these families will have to seek a different source of meat for the coming year, as their odds for an opportunity to hunt moose diminish.