Significant changes to Ontario moose tags coming in 2021
Tag prices will increase, but licence cost will decrease
Significant changes are coming to how Ontario's hunters get moose validation tags, and how much they pay for them.
But most will not kick in until 2021.
The changes were informed through consultation with the Big Game and Management Advisory Committee (BGMAC) and include further restrictions on calf hunting and moving from a draw to a points-based system.
"We're taking a smarter approach to moose harvest management to deliver on our commitment to make moose hunting fairer and more accessible while ensuring the sustainability of our moose population," said John Yakabuski, the province's minister of natural resources and forestry.
"Our government recognizes the importance of moose hunting to Ontario families and communities, and we want to ensure Ontarians have opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy our natural resources today and long into the future."
Pay for tags
The ministry said starting in 2021, moose harvest will be managed with bull tags, cow/calf tags, and calf tags, with wildlife management unit specific calf tag quotas across the province.
Each of those tags would have their own cost, with a bull tag priced the highest at $200. A hunter who buys a $35 licence, pays the $15 application fee and is who is successful getting a bull tag will have a total cost of $250.
Calf tags would be priced at $30 and cow/calf tags would be $150.
The ministry said these prices reflect hunter demand and ensure continued support for the management of the resource.
With the new system, a cow/calf tag could be used to harvest either a cow or a calf, a bull tag could only be used to harvest a bull moose, and a calf-specific tag could only be used to harvest a calf.
Bull and cow/calf tags will be season-specific to bow or gun season, but calf tags could be used over the full length of the season within that wildlife management unit.
Under the current system, the moose hunting licence costs $50 and there is no an additional charge for the tags.
Changes will also come to the moose hunting licence in 2021.
The ministry said the moose hunting licence will change to a product that allows hunting of moose but does not come with a tag that would allow the harvest of a moose.
The resident moose hunting licence fee will be reduced to $35.
A hunter can purchase a moose hunting licence to party hunt with another tag holder but won't be required to purchase a moose hunting licence to apply for a tag.
Hunters will apply to the moose tag allocation process with a $15 application fee.
New points-based system
A hunter's draw history will be used to determine the number of points they have accumulated. The ministry said the information will be made available to hunters later this year.
Points will be awarded based on the total number of years a hunter has applied and been unsuccessful in the draw.
Continuous applications won't be required. Being issued a bull or cow tag through the draw or receiving a tag transfer will reset a hunter's points to zero in that year. If hunters claim a tag they are awarded through the allocation process, they would be required to purchase a $35 licence and their tag.
Non-residents will pay a higher moose licence fee and the same tag costs.
The ministry said a detailed description of the process will be available later this year.
Ontario will also continue to conduct moose aerial inventory surveys in specific areas each winter, which will help estimate moose population status and trends to ensure continued sustainability of moose in the province.
"We are pleased to see the government moving forward with changes to Ontario's moose management program," said big game committee chair John Kaplanis in the provincially-issued release. "We feel the changes will strengthen moose harvest management in Ontario and provide latitude to adapt to the variety of challenges that are inherent in moose management."