NOTO’s Moose Survey Results are in…

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NOTO’s Moose Survey Results Are In…
As you are all aware, NOTO has been very involved in the moose population discussions with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) over the last several months in an effort to ensure that the tourism industry’s input on potential solutions to our moose herd issues are considered.
As you also know, the MNRF has proposed two changes to the moose hunting regulations.  They are as follows:
1. Limit calf hunting to two weeks only beginning the Saturday closest to October 22nd beginning in 2015. This change will affect all Wildlife Managements Units (WMUs) in Northern Ontario.
2. Delay the start of the rifle moose hunt by one week (Saturday closest to October 15th) beginning in 2016.  This change is only applicable to the following WMUs:
 5, 6, 7A, 7B, 8, 9A, 9B, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, 13, 14, 15A, 15B, 19, 21A, 21B, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42 
Through a recent survey that NOTO conducted with tourism operators, we learned that there are a number of outfitters who estimate they will see losses to their businesses if these regulations are to move forward.
We had 71 operators participate in our survey and share a great number of thoughts and ideas with us.  Of the 71 participants, 52 felt strongly that they would have guests cancel as a result of missing out on the opportunity to hunt calves this season even though all but two operators indicated that they have harvested very few calves during their hunts over the years.  It is the opportunity to hunt calves that was important.  
With the lack of information regarding party hunting from MNRF, many hunters and outfitters believe that their guests will not be able to party hunt without a valid calf tag.  NOTO has been told, this requirement will no longer be part of the rules around party hunting.  Hunters will still be able to party hunt but MNRF has yet to tell us exactly what new rules will be implemented this coming season.  We will keep you posted.
Here are some other key findings from our survey:
* 88% were concerned about our moose populations
* Respondents ranked the impact of the following factors on moose populations in this order:
#1 – Predators
#2 – Changing habitat
#3 – Hunting
#4 – Parasites/Disease
#5 – Weather Fluctuations
#6 – Changing Climate
* 52 operators reported that a combined total of 852 hunters have either indicated they will or may be likely to cancel their moose hunts for this coming season.
* Respondents reported that if changes are implemented this year without proper notice to guests the combined loses in revenue could be as high as $1.2 million.
* If these reported hunts are indeed cancelled this year as a result of the confusion and lack of notice for hunter guests, the MNRF could stand to lose almost $400,000 in licence revenues.
* Over 85 employees may not be kept on or hired during the hunting season
NOTO has shared all of these summary responses with the MNRF in hopes that we may see some modifications to the implementation to their proposed regulation changes.
I want to take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to respond to our emails to let us know how these proposed regulations will impact your businesses and for your additional thoughts on what additional measures the MNRF should consider to help improve our moose populations.
We have shared your concerns and have offered some proposed solutions to the MNRF to make these changes less negative for our industry.  We have also recognized that our moose populations in most areas of the north are in trouble and that all users of the resource must collaborate to ensure that sound management decisions are made to make an effective impact.
We await MNRF’s decision regarding these proposed changes and will relay the final details as soon as they become available. 

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