When we talk about wildlife management in Ontario, most people think of large species like bear and moose, or popular fish species like trout, perch and walleye. But did you know that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is responsible for managing all of Ontario’s wildlife – even small animals like racoons, squirrels and skunks? Last week, the MNRF announced that it is proposing changes to the rules for hunting and trapping small game and furbearers, like hare, fox and snapping turtle, as well as changes to the ministry’s general approach to managing such species.
The ministry’s proposed amendments to the seasons and limits for hunting and trapping small game and furbearers include changes such as:
- Eliminating the restriction on non-residents hunting raccoon with a firearm at night;
- Permanently eliminating the commercial bullfrog licence; and
- Restricting, but not eliminating, the season and limits for snapping turtle hunting, an at-risk species in Ontario (see Part 3.4 of the ECO’s 2012-2013 Annual Report).
In addition to species-by-species rule changes, the ministry is consulting the public on its draft Small Game and Furbearer Management Framework for Ontario. An example of the MNRF’s relatively new “Broader Landscape Approach” (see Part 3.1 of the ECO’s 2013-2014 Annual Report), this policy is intended to guide decision-making for small to medium sized species that can be harvested under a small game hunting licence, a trapping licence or, in the case of bullfrog and snapping turtle, a fishing licence.
The ministry is seeking feedback from the public on these changes until January 30, 2017. Submit your comments by visiting the Environmental Registry and searching for proposals #012-9169 and #012-9170.