Last year, the MNR consulted with a variety of groups, including NOTO, on proposed changes to the wolf hunting regulations in Ontario. Although all evidence suggests that wolf numbers in Ontario are healthy, many of the suggested changes made sense, and many groups, including NOTO and OFAH supported them.
Essentially, the MNR wanted to start treating the wolf as a big game animal. This meant a separate license or tag for wolves, harvest limits and monitoring, and the establishment of open and closed seasons. Unfortunately, what emerged this spring does not look anything like what we suggested to MNR.
It was initially suggested to us that there were some who felt that there should not be a non-resident hunting season for wolves. Of course, we voiced our strong opposition to that idea. Then, the issue of license fees came up. NOTO made it clear that the fee difference between resident and non-resident tags should be consistent with the differential in place for other licenses like deer and bear.
What we got, however, was nothing like that. The resident tag is $10, and residents can purchase a second tag for an additional $10. This is in addition to a small game license, which virtually all resident hunters already have. The non-resident license, however, is $250 plus a small game license for $87.50. Compare that with a $175 non-resident deer license. Furthermore, the season is closed from April 1 to September 15. This virtually eliminates any opportunity for a combined wolf-bear hunt in the fall, and shuts out outfitters who developed a spring wolf hunt to replace the spring bear hunt.
The season closure announcement came late and with virtually no advance notice. Once again, outfitters were left scrambling to cancel hunts and return deposits. More than a few outfitters have pointed out the similarities to the spring bear hunt cancellation. Unfortunately, this whole issue fits the established pattern of the animal rights movement, from quiet, back room deals with government to the specific targeting of non-resident hunters.
Is the non-resident wolf hunt a huge part of our industry’s overall business? Hardly. But that is not the point. It is simply another example of how poorly understood and supported our industry is at Queens Park, and how the votes of a few uninformed antis carry more weight than the needs of an industry and region. This issue alone will not destroy our industry, but how much longer before we die from the death of a thousand cuts?
This article was taken from page 27 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Spring 2005 Issue