Province eyeing second deer tag this year

The Ontario government will be presented with a recommendation within the next few weeks to change the current provincial regulations regarding the harvesting of deer.
The Ministry of Natural Resources intends to ask the province to permit a second deer tag in individual Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) where it determines an increased harvest is warranted.
That was the message presented at the annual meeting of the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club last Wednesday night (Jan. 28) at the Elks Hall.
Darryl McLeod, area biologist for the Fort Frances District, told those on hand that the ministry has recommended to Queen’s Park that a province-wide amendment be made to the Wildlife Act to permit the ministry to issue additional deer tags on a district-by-district basis.
With the recent increase in the local deer population, there was considerable interest and speculation regarding the possibility a second tag would be available to hunters in Rainy River District this fall.
“The regulation allowing the change should be posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights by early February,” said McLeod.
After that, it will be up to the MNR to determine whether the deer numbers in each district can support an increase in the harvest without adversely affected the viability of the population.
Until now, only one tag per hunter has been permitted in Ontario. The change, noted McLeod, would give considerable flexibility to the ministry which it does not currently have.
According to the MNR’s latest moose survey, the deer population has expanded significantly in this are in recent years, due in part to the relatively mild winters over that period.
There also was considerable anecdotal evidence from several club members at last week’s meeting to support the survey’s findings.
However, there was some question as to whether this winter’s particularly harsh conditions might take a larger toll than the MNR’s survey indicated.
McLeod said the final decision regarding the additional tag will be made some time after the new regulations take effect—and in plenty of time for the fall hunt preparations.
Club past-president Henry Miller noted that while snowfall levels this winter to date are significantly above average, the current cold spell only has been with us for about three weeks.
His observations indicated the deer might come through the current cold spell if it doesn’t last too long. “I saw lots of deer back in December and they actually looked pretty good,” he remarked.
Miller added if there’s a thaw in the next few weeks, the toll on deer might not be as severe as some feared. He also noted there usually is at least one thaw between January and March, although there is no guarantee, of course.