THUNDER BAY — The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is moving to restrict the transportation of baitfish from one region of Ontario to another.
But its original plan, which encountered some opposition during consultation stages, has been revised to reflect concerns raised by anglers and baitfish operators.
In Thunder Bay, representatives of both groups say they are generally pleased with the changes.
The ministry's bait management strategy is aimed at reducing the threat of invasive species and fish diseases spreading around the province.
MNRF initially proposed to establish four bait management zones in northern Ontario, and to prevent anglers from moving bait between the zones.
Under the new draft, there would be only two zones across the north and two in southern Ontario.
The strategy proposes the following:
"The geographic sections that they had planned were smaller, and there were far more of them....Tourism outfitters in the far north wouldn't have been able to buy bait in Atikokan or Thunder Bay, for example, and then fly it up north to their outpost camps where their clientele are," Kaplanis told Tbnewswatch.
At the consultation meeting, he had warned that the original plan "would have put bait fishermen and the bait industry at risk in the north...it would have put a lot of people out of business."
A Thunder Bay baitshop operator who participated in the meeting echoed that concern at the time.
"They want to limit the zones of where we can and can't trap our minnows, who we can and can't buy from in the different areas. If that regulation goes through, it's gonna limit where we can buy from," said Christine Lindsey Hewitson of Blackfoot Baits.
Hewitson suggested the new restrictions could even lead to a shortage of minnows to sell in Thunder Bay, forcing some operators to close down for the winter.
The revised scheme, she told Tbnewswatch Tuesday, is a big improvement.
It keeps us being able to import from where we need to." Hewitson is concerned, however, that although commercial bait operators will be required to take an MNRF-administered training course to identify invasive species and species at risk, members of the public who trap their own minnows will be exempt.
She said most bait harvesters and sellers are already educated about the issue, and "it's a good idea" to make that education mandatory.
"The personally harvested bait is where a lot of the invasive species is still going to be a risk, because the general public doesn't know the invasive species, or the different kinds of minnows that are available. So the risk of moving invasive species across waterways is still going to be there," Hewitson said.
She added that harvesters and dealers work hard to watch for invasive species, and keep detailed records to help prevent their spread, "but if the general public doesn't have to abide by those same rules, it's kind of a Catch-22."
Kaplanis, however, believes anglers who prefer to trap their own bait faced too much red tape under the ministry's original plan.
"There were inclusions in the previous proposal that you would have to keep a logbook, and record where and how many baitfish you trapped...A lot of things didn't make sense to us," he said.
The draft is posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry for public feedback until Nov. 14.
"We heard directly from bait operators and anglers at listening sessions across the province," said a government news release Monday. "The draft strategy addresses the movement of bait, which is a key factor in minimizing ecological risk, while providing flexibility to industry and anglers."
From the OMNRF
For your awareness please find enclosed the 2018 Ontario Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring report. Also enclosed is a map of the areas scheduled to be sampled in 2019, which include WMU 13, 8, 9A, 9B and 10. Please share with anyone you feel may have an interest. For those participating in the 2019 deer hunt in these units, we encourage you to provide samples. Additional details regarding drop off locations will be shared when available.
MNRF Moose Management Review listening sessions held in May and early June.
Over 600 interested hunters, members of the public and organizations attended these sessions to share their perspectives to develop a path forward. Over 2,000 individuals provided comments through the paper or online Moose Management Review survey.
BGMAC submitted a report to the Minister in July containing 15 recommendations. The recommendations were intended to improve moose management with a focus on sustainability and making tag allocation simpler, fairer and more consistent. BGMAC made some additional recommendations to address other concerns they heard from hunters. BGMAC’s report with recommendations has been released and is available at https://www.ontario.ca/page/big-game-management-advisory-committee-report-moose-management-review.
MNRF is now proposing changes based on the BGMAC recommendations. There are two proposals posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for public commenting; one addressing moose and one addressing wolf/coyote hunting regulations in northern Ontario.
Proposed changes to moose management as part of the Moose Management Review
Proposed changes to wolf and coyote hunting regulations in Northern Ontario
We invite you to comment through the registry website any time between now and September 26, 2019.
Thank you again for attending the listening sessions and providing your input.
(Note- Copied from MNRF website)
We want to make moose hunting fairer for hunters.
Through the moose management review, we will examine:
The Committee will be hosting six listening sessions open to the public throughout May. Interested hunters, members of the public and organizations are invited to attend one of these sessions to share their perspectives to develop a path forward. Each session will be an open house format where visitors will have the chance to review information and share their thoughts with committee members and MNRF staff.
Complete our online survey:
We would like to hear from you on how tag quotas for moose hunters are developed and allocated through the moose draw. Your input will help inform Ontario’s Big Game Management Advisory Committee (BGMAC) recommendations for the future.
Send us your feedback through our online survey.
The survey will remain open until June 7, 2019.
Next steps in the review:
The Big Game Management Advisory Committee, formerly the Ontario Moose Bear Allocation Advisory Committee, has been renamed to reflect their new mandate focused on all big game species, as well as the interests of resident hunters, non-resident hunters and tourist outfitters.
The committee’s first task will be to participate in the moose management review and develop recommendations on how to:
After the review, the committee will provide their advice as requested, including on:
THUNDER BAY — John Kaplanis says "it's an honour" to lead a new provincial advisory body that will review moose-hunting quotas and tag allocations.
Kaplanis will serve as chair of the Big Game Management Advisory Committee announced last week by Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski.
The Thunder Bay resident is also the executive-director of the Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen's Alliance, a group that has sharply criticized the MNRF for "inconsistent" and overly cautious moose management and tag allocation processes.
In a media release, Kaplanis said the ministry has used "creative math" to over-estimate the previous year's moose harvest, "thus forcing the moose harvest allocation formula to generate fewer adult tags" for resident hunters in northwestern Ontario.
"Despite a large increase in moose tags for rifle hunters in Wildlife Management Unit 15B [north of Thunder Bay and west of Lake Nipigon] due to a moose population survey that revealed very encouraging numbers...many other WMUs with increasing or stabilizing moose populations are still not being afforded the hunting opportunities that they should be," the statement said.
In an interview Monday, Kaplanis told Tbnewswatch he was approached by Minister Yakabuski directly to lead the new committee.
"The difference between this committee and former ones is that it is responsible to give feedback and recommendations directly to the minister himself. Previously, recommendations went to the wildlife branch within the MNRF. That in itself makes the ministry agencies at the wildlife level more accountable. I think that's a positive thing," he said.
Kaplanis feels he and the other committee members can offer valuable insight that will lead to improvements in moose management.
"We have a lot of experience hunting over the years, and are familiar with the landscape of the north. We have a feel for what we need to do in terms of wildlife management. Certainly I take that very seriously."
Kaplanis described moose hunter satisfaction with the province's current management program as being at an all-time low.
"Number one, they are not satisfied with the number of tags they are getting," he said, adding that management practices also need to be tailored better to the health of the moose herd in specific WMUs.
In units where the population is in decline, "we need to see more intensive management practices. But in areas where the herd is healthy, we'd like the ministry to recognize that more moose hunting opportunities should be afforded there."
Kaplanis pointed to the economic value of hunting, which he said generates "millions of dollars in revenue that, in the end, goes back into moose management and conservation. It's very important to maintain that."
His eight-member committee includes two other Thunder Bay residents, Elford Wiens and Glenn Rivard, as well as Fern Duquette of Atikokan and Bradley Greaves from Ignace.
Please see attached. This should make for some interesting discussions as the potential of increased activity on the lake trout fishery is there.
The Greenwater Road has been closed by the MNRF and a sign was place in 2013 restricting access.
Its use and maintenance are managed through UMS# TB-012. It states that the Greenwater Road will provide access to private property on Greenwater Lake through written authorization by the MNRF. It states that this road is intended for mineral exploration and for the use by the current private property owner and his immediate family only.
The private property owner is now asking the MNRF for an amendment to UMS# TB-012 that would allow any future registered owners and family, as well as friends accompanied by owners, to have access beyond the closure point.
The effect of this proposed amendment would be to allow increased use of the Greenwater Road, in the event that the current private property owner sells the property or portions of it. This would give any future purchaser(s) confidence that they may obtain written approval from the MNRF to access their property via the Greenwater Road.
NOSA responds to Moose Tag Allocations cut for Northwest Region Wildlife Management Units
Thunder Bay - The office of the Northwester Ontario Sportsmen's Alliance(NOSA) is citing inconsistent moose management policy as one of the key reasons for yet another large cut to moose tags for the region. NOSA Executive Director John Kaplanis is blaming the Northwest Regional office of OMNRF for signing off on the decisions to cut tags in this manner.
NOSA is citing OMNRF's over estimated harvest calculations in the formula as one of the primary contributors to seeing tags reduced so drastically in many wildlife management units(WMU's), therefore as a "fail safe" measure OMNRF is simply knocking back the adult moose tag allocations to a level that basically brings moose hunting to a near stand still in many WMU's. For example in WMU 13 around the city of Thunder Bay, only one resident bull archery tag is being allocated for the 2018 fall moose hunting season. NOSA believes that tag reductions such as this are simply a demonstration on the part of OMNRF to "punish" moose hunters for not participating in a voluntary moose hunter "post card survey" in recent years.
NOSA Exec. Director John Kaplanis claims this to be a "juvenile" move on the part of OMNRF here in the region when in fact this sort of practice does not occur in other regions such as the Northeast or southern region of OMNRF. He says, "basically it's one guy in their office who decides that he's going to fudge the numbers just a little bit, but by doing so it is enough to change the outcomes in their formula for calculating tag allocations and therefore this has caused a net reduction of almost 1000 tags across the entire Northwest Region."
Normally in the past, when moose tags are being calculated in between years of Moose Aerial Inventories (MAIs) the tag allocations would be held at status quo for usually no more than a 3 year cycle to determine trends in population dynamics and to determine if harvest management strategies are working. NOSA claims that in the Northwest Region OMNRF appears to have adopted a management cycle from year to year and this is not consistent with how other regional jurisdictions within OMNRF are operating.
NOSA wishes to point out that OMNRF's moose management policies also contain direction for maintaining moose hunting opportunities in order to therefore recognize and support the value of the socio-economic side of moose hunting. Moose hunting is a major economic contributor to many northern communities. Kaplanis believes OMNRF is not doing more to protect and sustain moose hunting opportunities in the region and as a result, moose hunter confidence is down, participation by moose hunters in the "post card hunter survey" is also down because of this. Furthermore, the Fish and Wildlife fund known as the Special Purpose Account (SPA) is suffering because of the large numbers of moose hunters who have dropped out of the activity in the past 3 years. OMNRF does not seem to be concerned that it is losing millions of dollars in revenue as a result of this.
NOSA has previously requested that OMNRF conduct a full review of the moose management practices by the Northwest Regional office, but this has fallen on deaf ears within the confines of the current provincial government.
Every year, a number of natural resource violation cases go unsolved. They can be difficult to solve because they happen in remote areas where there are few eyewitnesses.
Our conservation officers make over 170,000 contacts with citizens in the field each year. We rely on tips from the public, physical evidence and community support to help solve these cases. You can visit the website at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/solve-natural-resource-case#section-2 for more information. Help us solve natural resource violation cases. Call MNRF TIPS if you have any information at 1-877-847-7667.
Recent unsolved cases
As you are aware, the Draft Strategic Policy for Bait Management in Ontario is currently posted on the Environmental Registry (www.ebr.gov.on.ca) (#012-9791). The comment period is open from February 27-June 27, 2017.
As part of the consultation period we have scheduled a number of information sessions across the province to explain and clarify what is being proposed and answer any questions that stakeholders may have on the draft policy. We will be having three types of sessions: 1) combined industry/stakeholder sessions; 2) Public open houses in the evenings; and 3) Indigenous sessions
The session dates and locations are as follows:
Stakeholder information sessions will be held in the following locations:
Location Date Time Address
Sudbury May 24 9am-12pm Lexington Hotel, 50 Brady St., Sudbury
Timmins May 25 2-5pm Ramada Inn, 1800 Riverside Dr., Timmins
Kingston May 29 2-5pm Ramada Kingston Hotel 33 Benson St., Kingston
London June 8 2-5pm Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Rd, South, London
Thunder Bay June 13 9am-12pm Valhalla Inn Hotel, 1 Valhalla Inn Road, Thunder Bay
Kenora June 15 9am-12pm Clarion Lakeside Inn, 470 1st Avenue South, Kenora
In addition to the stakeholder information sessions, MNRF will also be providing public open houses, at the locations and times outlined below. These open house sessions will be relatively informal with MNRF staff being available for one-on-one discussions to answer any questions that individuals may have.
Public open houses will be held in the following locations:
Location Date Time Location
Sudbury May 23 6:30-9:00pm Lexington Hotel, 50 Brady St., Sudbury
Timmins May 25 6:30-9:00pm Ramada Inn, 1800 Riverside Dr., Timmins
Kingston May 29 6:30-9:00pm Ramada Kingston Hotel, 33 Benson St., Kingston
London June 8 6:30-9:00pm Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn, 591 Wellington Rd, South, London
Thunder Bay June 12 6:30-9:00pm Valhalla Inn Hotel, 1 Valhalla Inn Road, Thunder Bay
Kenora June 15 6:30-9:00pm Clarion Lakeside Inn, 470 1st Avenue South, Kenora
Once again we encourage all stakeholders to review this posting and either submit comments through the Environmental Registry (www.ebr.gov.on.ca; #012-9791).
If you have any questions regarding the proposed policy or the provincial bait policy review process, please contact Scott Gibson (Senior Fisheries Biologist) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 705-755-5395.
Public input required for the Draft White-tailed Deer Management Policy for Ontario. The comment period ends on May 4th, 2017
Please visit the links below:
Draft Policy ; http://apps.mnr.gov.on.ca/public/files/er/white-tailed-deer-eng.pdf