The fall meeting of O.F.A.H. Zone A was hosted by the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club on Nov. 14, which attracted delegates from Fort Frances, Atikokan, Balmertown, Ear Falls, Dryden, and Kenora.
Zone chairman Bruce Hamilton updated members on a number of issues:
•Bill C-391, a bill to abolish the long gun registry of non-restricted firearms, passed second reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 164-137.
It now will go to committee before coming back for a third vote, then it goes to the Senate for final approval.
•Toronto city police, targeting lapsed firearms licence-holders, have seized almost 400 firearms.
•The Canadian Firearms Centre contracted a polling firm to survey gun owners’ satisfaction with the firearms office.
They were given the names of gun owners, which many feel is a breach of confidentiality.
•The marking of imported firearms is to start in December, 2009.
•The O.F.A.H. has been lobbying the MNR to have hunting and fishing licences exempt from the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) if it goes into effect on July 1, 2010.
In his big game report, Hamilton stated deer hunters in the Atikokan area, specifically WMUs 11B, 12A, 12B, and 13, are encouraged to help the MNR by having samples taken from harvested deer to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Meanwhile, results of Phase II of the moose tag allocation consultations were shared with the Big Game Advisory Committee. There was no clear indication of preference.
The only thing people seemed to agree upon was that transfers of tags should be made harder, but there was no consensus as to how this could be done.
Most hunters seemed content with the present system of tag allocation.
There will be another consultation process for 2010.
In other news, an elk management plan for the province is being considered. A small group in Fort Frances was requested by the local MNR to review the draft plan and offer recommendations, which was done.
The plan is posted on the Environmental Registry at ontario.ca/environmentalregistry (the registry number is 010-8381).
Comments are being accepted until Jan. 7.
Mike Solomon and Murray English, co-chairs of the Northwestern Ontario Elk Restoration Coalition, were on hand for the Nov. 14 meeting and strongly expressed their dissatisfaction with some other partners involved in elk restoration in the area (referred to as the Lake of the Woods herd).
They cited a breakdown of communication with the Kenora and Fort Frances MNR and the co-chairs as one example.
There is a discrepancy between reports of elk numbers by the local coalition and the provincial organization.
Solomon and English have written a book tracing the history of elk restoration in the Lake of the Woods area from 1993-2004.
The book will go on sale next year.
Recently, a trap was put out near the Cameron Lake site to capture and collar more animals.
Four elk have been caught—one bull previously collared, one immature bull, one previously-collared cow, and one calf.
Delegates were concerned when they learned the government put forward Bill 212, the Good Government Act, on Oct. 27, which makes changes to improve previous legislation.
Part of this bill will allow wild elk to be capture, harassed, and killed.
Many in this zone feel that excess animals should be relocated to Lake of the Woods as this herd never did receive a full complement of animals from Alberta.
Rachel Hill, district planner, and Jeff Wiume, area supervisor from the Fort Frances District office of the MNR, also were on hand for the meeting.
Wiume outlined some of the “green” energy proposals within the area. Hill then went into detail on the progress of the Namakan River hydro development project.
A notice of the draft environmental report will be coming out soon.
The proponent—Ojibway Power and Energy Group—has agreed to a 60-day review period for this project rather than the mandatory 30 days.
It also is expected that they will be holding open houses again.
Three species which fall under the Species-at-Risk legislation have been identified as being affected by the proposal: lake sturgeon, pygmy snaketale dragonfly, and the whip-poor-will.
Wiume also informed zone delegates that 139 lakes have been selected for study in Fish Management Zone 5 (FMZ5).
It is expected that a Fisheries Management Advisory Council will be set up for FMZ5 near the end of 2010, and they will be seeking members to sit on it.
FMZ5 takes in the southern portion of O.F.A.H. Zone A in the Fort Frances-Atikokan area and south of Kenora-Dryden.
Club reports then were given outlining what activities took place since the August meeting.
It’s encouraging to note that a great number of conservation projects are being done by all clubs.
There are too many to mention here, but one example is the Atikokan Sportsmen’s Conservation Club being given permission by the Atikokan MNR office to build a road into Caribus Lake (this is a small lake which they have been stocking with walleye fry from their hatchery for four years).
Finally, awards were handed out by the O.F.A.H. Zone A executive consisting of Hamilton, Dennis Krisjanson, and Dutchie Loman.
The Fred Aaron Trophy was won by the Atikokan Sportsmen’s Club as the club which has done the most for conservation in 2009.
John Charbonneau accepted the trophy on behalf of his club.
And local sportsmen’s club member Jeff Johnston was the recipient of the Larry Nault Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in conservation.