Ont. plans more deer hunting, cites crop damage

A rapid expansion in deer populations in some parts of Ontario, leading to increased crop damage and more highway roadkill, has prompted the province to propose an broader hunt.

Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield said in a release Thursday that the province is committed to address the issues of crop damage and highway deer strikes “while maintaining healthy and sustainable deer populations through a management program that includes responsible hunting.”

The province’s proposals are posted online at its environmental registry website for public comment until the following deadlines:

  • Feb. 6, for a proposal for “new and enhanced” hunting seasons (quote registry No. 010-5338);
  • Feb. 11, for a proposed new “Hunter’s Choice” deer seal (registry No. 010-5337); and
  • Feb. 13, for a proposed new winter archery season in southwestern Ontario (010-5648).

Ontario’s deer range and populations have expanded significantly in some areas due to milder winters and changes to habitat and other land uses. A healthy deer herd can almost double its numbers during one favourable year, the province noted.

The proposals include creating new deer hunting seasons in specific northern wildlife management units, consistent with those of other units sharing similar cervid populations and habitat.

As well, the province proposes to streamline and “enhance” the archery and gun seasons in specific wildlife management units, harmonizing them with those in neighbouring units, making it easier for hunters to understand the regulations.

Also proposed is a “Hunter’s Choice” additional deer seal that could be used across multiple wildlife management units in southern Ontario, all of which now offer additional deer seals. The seal would be for resident deer hunters, would be valid for archery seasons only and would cover both antlered and antlerless deer, the province said.

As well, the province wants to introduce a new winter archery season for deer in areas of southwestern Ontario “where deer abundance, snow depths and ecological conditions permit.”

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