Charges are down, but so are the number of hunter contacts
MANITOULIN – Results from enforcement actions during this year’s rifle deer hunt on Manitoulin Island are in from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), with charges and warnings trending downward compared to last year although the number of field contacts also dropped significantly.
“From what the conservation officers observed—and they aren’t biologists so any observation is anecdotal—the deer population appeared to be down but there seemed to be roughly the same number of hunters,” said MNRF spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski in an emailed statement.
She said the number of hunters fluctuated based on which part of Manitoulin the conservation officers were patrolling. Officers from as far as Hearst were called in to assist conservation officers from the Sudbury enforcement unit. On Tuesday evening of the hunt, the Ontario Provincial Police and MNRF collaborated to host a road check station.
For 2019’s rifle deer hunt, conservation officers contacted 441 people on Manitoulin Island. They laid 25 charges and issued 31 warnings.
The charges included: fail to invalidate tag immediately after kill—deer; unlawfully have loaded firearm in conveyance; fail to properly attach invalidated tag—deer; fail to wear hunter orange while hunting; and unlawfully possess firearm at night.
Warnings issued this year included: fail to properly attach invalidated tag—deer; hunt without having licence on your person; fail to wear proper helmet; and possess a copy or counterfeit tag.
MNRF seized two firearms and one deer due to non-compliance. No hunting incidents or injuries were reported to the MNRF Sudbury enforcement unit.
In 2018, conservation officers performed 748 field contacts that resulted in 30 charges, one seized deer and 67 warnings. The charges and warnings are much higher than this year, but the difference in field contacts is also notably different.
When adjusted based on the amount of field contacts, the 2018 hunt led to an average of one charge per every 25 field contacts and one warning per every 11 field contacts. The 2019 numbers were one charge per every 18 field contacts and one warning for every 14 field contacts.
The rate of charges was significantly higher this year, even though the numbers were lower, and the rate of warnings did drop but not quite as sharply as the incident numbers might suggest.