MNR seeks feedback on moose tag draw

Mitch Calvert

The Ministry of Natural Resources, in the midst of hosting 26 public meetings to discuss proposed changes to the current resident moose tag draw system, received some feedback from a small but passionate gathering at the Townshend Theatre here last Tuesday evening (Feb. 24).
Gord Eason, MNR area biologist for the Wawa District, acting as the provincial lead on the project, led the two-hour presentation focused on reviewing the moose tag draw system based on the 1,600 comments the ministry received from hunters during the first phase.
One such improvement involves giving incentives to those hunters who choose to enter the tag draw as a group.
The proposal calls for a percentage of tags to be put aside each year for the largest groups applying, and in order of group size on down the line.
Another option would mean having a pre-draw for those hunters in groups of five or more, giving them more opportunities at tags than smaller groups and individuals.
The third idea dealt with a group-weighted draw, which Eason said gives larger groups a serious leg up.
“If you have 15 members in a group, each of your names will go in the draw 15 times and so on,” he explained.
Another issue that surfaced in the feedback from hunters was the need to reduce wait times equally.
Under the current system, 1,152 hunters actually have gone more than 15 years without ever getting a tag despite entering every year while others have been drawn multiple times in between.
To combat this, one of the suggested revisions calls for a longer waiting time in Pool 2 for those who received tags recently, giving less competition to those suffering long droughts between tags.
Another proposed revision outlined in Eason’s presentation suggested allocating a certain percentage of tags to those applicants who have gone the longest without a tag in each Wildlife Management Unit—giving a guaranteed tag to the most unlucky registrants that year.
Another option proposed to improve wait times is the development of a success-weighted draw, where the applicant’s name is entered in the draw equal to the number of consecutive years they have applied and gone without receiving a tag.
One concept discussed at last Tuesday’s presentation suggested an overhaul to a points system, where points are accumulated by hunters each year they are unsuccessful.
Tags then would be given out each year to those individuals or groups with the highest number of points, and it would encourage hunters to share a moose by combining points within a group to increase their chances.
Extra points beyond what is necessary to obtain a tag (varying based on your WMU, etc.) would stay with the hunters for use in another year.
Lastly, Eason referred to the practice of “padding” groups with non-hunters in order to increase the chances at receiving a tag, and then transferring it from one person to another after a tag has been received.
Eason said one such case last year saw a 91-year-old women, who had been in a nursing home for three years, transfer a tag to her son when clearly she wasn’t capable of hunting herself.
To discourage this practice (22 percent of groups took advantage of the transfer system last year), it was suggested that both the individual making the transfer and the person receiving the tag will be required to stay in Pool 2 for an additional period afterwards.
Another option would require that the individual making a second transfer must have accepted a tag in between successive transfers to prevent non-participant involvement.
The last option suggested eliminating automatic tag transfers except under certain circumstances (i.e., medical reasons, jobs, etc.)
The MNR hopes hunters in Northwestern Ontario (who account for only 11.5 percent of respondents in Phase 1 of the project while more than 50 percent were from southern Ontario) can fill out the questionnaire posted online at ontario.ca/moosereview and attach it via e-mail to moose.review@ontario.ca with their agreements or disagreements on all of the proposals put forth.
Completed questionnaires also can be printed and dropped off at any ServiceOntario location or sent by mail addressed to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 300 Water St., Peterborough, Ont., K9J 8M5.