MANITOULIN—Hunting week has arrived on Manitoulin Island and there are a number of important things to consider to ensure you have a safe, fun time before rifle season closes on Sunday, November 25.
“The main thing we’re looking at this year is a big push for public safety,” says Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Conservation Officer (CO) Iain McGale. He has been working with MNRF for six years, two of which have been as a CO.
A significant portion of the safety element involves knowing, understanding and following the hunting regulations. In a press release, the ministry emphasizes the need to watch out for other people using public lands in Ontario such as hikers, riders, birdwatchers and fellow hunters.
“We’re going to be out checking that all hunters are in compliance with requirements for hunter orange,” says CO McGale. “That includes a vest or jacket that has at least 400 square inches of hunter orange visible on all sides above the waist.”
All hunters must also wear a hunter orange head covering during all gun seasons. The minimum body requirement of 400 square inches equals 2,580 square centimetres.
Firearm safety should also be top of mind for hunters, states the MNRF release. The ministry implores hunters to handle firearms with care and attention at all times and to never shoot unless they are positive of their target and what lies on the other side of it. It is illegal to shoot from a vehicle or carry a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle.
Manitoulin Island is split into Wildlife Management Units 43A and 44B, with Cockburn Island on its own in zone 44. Each unit has specific regulations for hunting. For instance, while the main portion of Manitoulin has hunting week now, Cockburn Island had its turn last week between November 5 and 17.
In all three zones, written permission is required from landowners before anyone else can hunt on their property. Dogs are forbidden in the three zones as well.
CO McGale says the written permission is important in an area such as Manitoulin because of the amount of privately-owned land on the Island.
“We run into a fair number of issues about trespassing for the purposes of hunting. That’s one of the reasons why written landowner permission is required for hunters to carry with them while hunting,” he says. “In addition to the deer licence and game seals, we’ll also be asking for written permission while doing field checks. That’s to ensure landowner property is being respected, and there’s a hunter safety aspect too that landowners know who’s on their property and who has access.”
There will not be any deer check stations in the area this year for either enforcement or monitoring chronic wasting disease (CWD). CO McGale says the district office may run a voluntary deer check station, but he cannot comment as to any specifics since it would come from a different level of the organization.
Deer urine poses a significant threat to the spread of CWD, since researchers believe it is spread through bodily fluids.
“One of things conservation officers will be checking for is making sure no illegal products are being carried by hunters. One of the things is ensuring no deer urine is carried, or any bottles or labels that claim to contain natural deer urine. That’s something that’s prohibited for use and possession in Ontario,” says CO McGale.
Poaching is another concern for MNRF. CO McGale says anyone with tips on regulation violations or poaching should immediately call the MNRF tip line at 1-877-847-7667, or anonymously contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8744 or SudburyCrimestoppers.com.
“All the conservation officers are hoping to ensure that all hunters have a safe and enjoyable hunting season,” says CO McGale.