PETERBOROUGH, ON--(Marketwired - April 11, 2017) - The following is a statement from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH):
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has restored rabbit and hare hunting seasons in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 1-50 and 53-59 for the remainder of the 2017 season -- effective April 11, 2017 through June 15, 2017.
In case you missed it, while making broad changes to the small game hunting regulations that came into effect on April 1, 2017, the MNRF closed the remainder of this year's rabbit and hare hunting seasons in northern Ontario, which were originally scheduled to close June 15. The announcement was made March 31 and the government provided no notice to hunters beyond an Environmental Registry posting of the immediate closure.
Since the decision was announced, the OFAH has heard from many small game hunters who were directly affected. The mid-season changes have left many cancelling their plans and looking for answers to explain why their spring hunting traditions had been eliminated so abruptly. Minister Kathryn McGarry responded quickly to the concerns of the OFAH and the hunting community in signing a regulation today that restores the remainder of this year's rabbit and hare hunting seasons in northern Ontario.
The changes came into effect immediately, but unfortunately are just a temporary measure and will only remain in effect until June 15, 2017. The season will end on March 31 each year in the future.
"Although this is a great first step for the minister to show she is listening to the concerns of northern hunters, the abrupt season closure for this year is only the start of the conversation. We want to have a discussion about how we can work towards a commitment to restore these important spring hunting traditions moving forward," says Matt DeMille, OFAH manager of fish and wildlife services.
The OFAH did not support the reduction in rabbit and hare hunting opportunities when proposed earlier this year because there is no evidence to suggest these hunting seasons are not sustainable.
While this will be a priority issue for the OFAH, it is important to recognize that there were many enhancements to small game hunting with the recent announcements.
"The OFAH has been pushing for modernized small game hunting regulations for many years. We are extremely pleased to see so many positive changes, and we don't want this one issue to completely overshadow the rest," says DeMille. "It is an important issue that needs to be resolved, but some of the MNRF's recent changes give small game hunters many reasons to be optimistic about the future of small game hunting in Ontario."
For more information on all the changes, visit www.ofah.org/smallgamechanges.
With more than 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 740 member clubs, the OFAH is the province's largest fish and wildlife conservation-based organization -- and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information visit us online at www.ofah.org, follow us on Twitter @ofah and find us on Facebook or Instagram @theofah.