Hunting laws in Ontario are governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry by the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1997. Ministry officers are specifically tasked with ensuring complete compliance with this act and its associated regulations, and severe fines and penalties can result when infractions occur.
Every hunter must possess a valid hunting license, carried on your person along with a valid Outdoors Card while hunting. An Outdoors Card is an identification card issued by the Ministry that allows you to hunt or fish in Ontario.
Depending on the type of game being hunted, you must also carry the appropriate game seals or tags. Game seals may not be transferred to another person, and you may not carry another person’s seals or tags at any point.
Discharging a firearm from a vehicle is illegal, regardless of whether the vehicle is an automobile, boat or otherwise. Regulations also prohibit hunters from shooting from, down or across a public road while hunting. There are no exceptions to this rule, and while the typical fine for doing so is $500, depending on the circumstance they can be much more severe.
Regulations govern the type of firearm that may be used in relation to the species of game being hunted. It’s illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle. In Ontario, guns must be stored unloaded and in a locked container when in a vehicle.
Hunting is not permitted at night. Hunting may begin thirty minutes before sunrise and must not continue beyond thirty minutes after sunset in Ontario. An exception is raccoon hunting, permitted for Ontario residents with a valid small game license or trapping license.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry established geographical designations called Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) to set hunting and trapping seasons in Ontario. WMUs indicate the areas of Ontario where open season hunting and harvest quotas apply. As hunting regulations vary across Ontario’s ninety-five different WMUs, hunters must be aware of WMU mapping to avoid entering into a WMU where hunting guidelines may be different. WMU boundaries are regulated under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act – Ontario Regulation 663/98, Part 6.
Hunters are required to wear “hunter orange” in accordance with regulations. The fine for not doing so is $300.
Fines for hunting without a license begin in the $200-$300 range, but much larger fines of tens of thousands of dollars can apply when multiple infractions occur and bigger game is involved.
If you’ve been charged with a hunting or fishing related offence under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, it’s important to know your rights. The Act is extensive and contains several regulations, and fines of thousands of dollars can apply for just one infraction.
Strong defences in natural resources cases critically analyze correct legal interpretation as it relates to specific cases. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can protect your rights by making informed decisions with respect to this analysis, earning the best possible outcomes for their clients.
If you’ve been charged with a hunting or fishing related offence, contact me immediately for a FREE consultation. I fight hard on behalf of my clients for the best results, and I have more than a decade of experience in providing strong, solid defences for my clients. While I typically represent clients throughout the Greater Toronto Area including Newmarket, Markham, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, King City, Aurora, Burlington, Oakville, and Milton, I do also represent individuals across the entire province of Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Ottawa, and as far south as Windsor.