Goose hunters’, farmers’ input sought

PETERBOROUGH—Goose hunters, farmers and other members of the public concerned about Canada geese having caused agricultural damage are being requested by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) to give their opinion on possible changes to the opening season date for Canada goose hunting in the Central Hunting District (including Manitoulin Island).

“What we’ve done is distributed, and posted a survey on our website, on looking at date changes for the goose hunting season,” said Shawn Cayley, manager of communications with the OFAH, last week.

“No, the survey is not limited to geese, but waterfowl, all predatory birds, and we are asking for input not just from hunters, but farmers and members of the public said,” said Mr. Cayley. He acknowledged that in areas around the province, including Manitoulin, “we hear a lot of concerns from the farming community no agricultural damage caused by migratory birds.”

On the OFAH website under the heading ‘Attention Central Hunting District Goose Hunters’ it is stated, “the OFAH is seeking hunter opinion on the opening season date for Canada goose in the Central Hunting District. Would you support changing the opening season date for Canada goose hunting in Central hunting district (either throughout the district or in selected Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) from the current “Tuesday after Labour Day” to a fixed date of September 1?”

The OFAH outlines the details to consider include that: this change would result in the season opening one to seven days earlier, depending on the year. To allow the earlier opening season date, days would be removed from the end of the goose hunting season to maintain a maximum season length of 107 days. With a fixed opening season date of September 1, the season would also have a fixed closing date of December 16 which is identical to the Northern Hunting District. The proposed change could either include the entire Central Hunting District or select WMUs in the district based on feedback from stakeholders where human-goose conflicts are ‘of concern.’

The OFAH explained the rationale behind the proposed change, “recent analysis by the Canadian Wildlife Service indicate that there is an increasing population trend for Canada geese in the Central Hunting District and the potential for significant population growth given the amount of available habitat within this area. There have been increasing reports of human-goose conflicts throughout the district from a variety of stakeholders including municipalities (e.g., Sudbury, McKellar Township, Blind River, etc.), cottagers and cottage associations (Halliburton area) and farmers. In addition, some farmers have expressed an interest in an earlier goose hunting season along with Highway 17 corridor and Manitoulin Island to help reduce agricultural damage caused  by migratory birds (WMUs 42, 43, 44).”

Once you have accessed the OFAH website and this notice you can complete a short online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/57Q8WFY

Mr. Cayley noted as well, “no we are obviously not looking at trying to lobby for this season change for this year, but in the future.”

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