2016 OFAH ANNUAL FISH AND WILDLIFE CONFERENCE

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OVERVIEW REPORT ON THE PRESENTATIONS THAT WE, (JOHN FORD, FRED GEBERDT, AND DENNIS WISEMAN), ATTENDED AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SSA, AT THE OFAH ANNUAL FISH AND WILDLIFE MEETING AND CONFERENCE, MARCH 18-19, 2016, IN MISSISSAUGA.

BILL THORNTON, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry;

He talked about the extension and expansion of the Spring Bear Hunt, to all WMU’s that have a fall bear hunt. The bear population is healthy at 100,000.

Moose hunting comments were made by him on the importance of the revenue value made by moose hunters, and the fact that in the last two years there has been a drop of 20,000 moose licences. This relates to millions of dollars in lost revenue to the MNRF’s Special Purpose Account.

Phase 2 of the moose hunt review opened up more hunting opportunities on predators such as wolf and bear. The delayed opening by one week for the moose hunt, and the extended calf season by 2 weeks was not popular with hunters, but was needed to sustain a healthy moose population.

Live Bait review is being undertaken, a comprehensive review of this policy is presently underway.

The Provincial Invasive Species Legislation will now become law in Ontario. This will make it easier for rapid response, and the restrictions on the importing of invasive species into the Province.

The Deputy Minister indicated the MNRF’s continued support for the 41 community hatcheries that presently operate in Ontario, and was very aware of their ongoing success and strong local community support.

The presentation was completed by taking questions from those in attendance, which he and his staff did a good job in responding with answers. He ended this session by presenting the Barry Anglers & Hunters Junior program with a special MNRF Conservation Award.

JOHN CLEMENTS, Acting Director, Enforcement Branch MNRF,  and  BRYAN MERRIT, Acting Manager, Provincial Enforcement Operations Section, MNRF

MNRF Enforcement Branch Priorities:

Last year the MNRF hired 40 new Conservation Officers, however, a large number were mostly made to replace officers that retired or had moved on to employment with the OPP.  The CO’s are presently making a move to get more involved with promoting youth into hunting and fishing. They are aware of the 22,000 new hunters that have passed the hunter education course this past year, and that 20% of them are female.

They recognize the fact that they are part of something bigger, that being part of the public trust, and it is their mission to protect our Provinces natural resources. They also must provide ongoing training to staff.  They recognize that they must always approach the public/anglers/hunters with discretion.   They are presently working to investigate and use new technologies.

A new priority is working on invasive species enforcement. They will be checking on bait dealers and checking anglers bait buckets in 2016.

They recognize that many new officers do not have the background in fishing and hunting and the need to work at opening up opportunities for them to meet OFAH’s and others in the general public expectations, and for them to develop the importance of and taking part in this time honoured activity.

CATHERINE FILEJSKI , Public Health Veterinarian, Infectious Diseases Policy and Programs, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and DR. CURTIS RUSSELL, Senior Program Specialist, Communicable Diseases, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Public Health Ontario

Lyme  Disease:

There are hard and soft ticks in Ontario. The black legged tick, (we call it the deer tick), is a soft tick. This tick has black on its soft body. If it has white on a soft body, it is a dog tick. The black legged tick is the one that carries Lyme disease. European countries have lots of Lyme disease as well, but their Lyme disease is a different strain and requires a different treatment than the one used in Ontario.  If a tick bites you, the sooner you get it off the better in order to prevent the Lyme disease bacteria from entering your body. You can purchase a small curved tool to remove ticks that are attached to your body. (We received two of these small tools at the OFAH Conference, if you wish we can show you them at a Club meeting).   It takes between 12 to 24 hours of attachment before Lyme disease bacteria is transmitted. The Lyme disease bacteria is only found in the tick’s gut, and it doesn’t transfer into your body until after it has filled itself by sucking in your blood. The worst seasons for catching Lyme disease occur from May to September. The highest pockets of infestation occurs in Southern Ontario around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, other areas to be watchful of are adjacent to the rest of the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the Rainy River area of the province. The number of cases in Ontario has been increasing each year. The best prevention against Lyme disease is to tuck your pants into your boots, and wear bug spray with deet. After your walk in fields or the woods, inspect your clothing carefully and brush it down while still outside.

Dr. Catherine Filejski also talked about Rabies in Ontario, and the fact that it has increased in Ontario, particularly around the Hamilton Area, and is spreading northwest in the Province.

Seventy (70) cases were confirmed in Ontario in 2015.

The following list of contacts, were passed on for people to use when rabies is suspected;

  • For dogs, contact the Agriculture centre at 1-877-424-1300.
  • For humans, contact your Public Health Department, 1-800-263-3456.
  • For sightings of wild animals with suspected rabies, contact the MNRF, 1-519-376-3860.

JEFF WEESE, Vice President of the Big Game Blood Trackers in Ontario

Tracking Dogs, When There Is No Trail:

This group formed their Ontario Association in 2011. It’s a volunteer service formed to assist hunter in the recovery of shot and lost game. They accept any breed of dog for training, but recognize the fact that some breed of dogs turn out better than others. Their training techniques follow the methods of John Jeanneney, of the United States, United Blood Teachers. Their dogs are trained by using a drag trail soaked in blood, and aged for a day or two. Some time the blood is placed on the bottom and sides of the boot, as well, some boots use an attached animal, (deer), or other animal lower leg part tied onto the side of the tracking boot.  Last year, 2015, they had 67 tracking teams reporting their success from across the U.S and Canada.  This was their recovery record; 741 deer, 11 bear, 15 mule deer, 2 hogs, 1 sheep, 1 moose, 1 elk, and 1 turkey.

They are presently working to change some of the regulations that control them. They cannot continue tracking after dark, and they would like to get this changed. Also, they want to be excluded from the definition of hunting. Both of these changes will be difficult for them to achieve, because often at the end of their tracking activities the hunter in many cases has to finish off the kill.

CHRIS WILSON, Research Scientist, Aquatic Research and Monitoring Section, MNRF Putting DNA to Work, Genetic Applications for informing Fisheries Management:

Sustainable management relies on informed decisions. Their goal is conservation and management of fisheries and supporting ecosystems. He is presently working on the question of stocking.We in Ontario have been at for a long time, and is it really working?

Genetic diversity is equal to adaptive potential, and variation within and among populations of fish stocks. These unique qualities are very hard to restore if lost. We need to keep wild populations of fish as they have a proven track record with these special attributes, which they developed over thousands of years. Dr. Wilson is presently working on DNA tracking systems, basically asking; “Who are you, and where are you from? “

Ontario has the only historical history of lake trout in the world, traced back to pre-ice age origins

One example of his DNA work was on the coaster brook trout in Lake Superior.  DNA testing on this dwindling population of coaster brook trout, proved that this fish was in fact the same genetic fish as the river and stream brook trout. These DNA tests resulted in MNRF closing most of the streams and rivers for brook trout fishing from Hwy. 17 down to Lake Superior, in a effort to increase the Lake Superior coaster brook trout population.

DNA testing on muskellunge in Southern Ontario and the Great Lakes has also shown that the musky has developed into separate and distinctly different genetic populations. That is, the Saugeen River musky is genetically different from the Nottawasaga musky population, and also different from the Parry Sound musky population, and so on. This difference in their genetic make-up, make this species a good candidate for catch and release fishing, because if one of the muskellunge stocks become depleted, it would be doubtful that stocked musky from a different water body would be successful.

Regarding the Atlantic salmon stocking in Lake Ontario, DNA tests have shown that the LaHave stocks have proven more successful as returning 1 year old fish than all of the other genetic strains of Atlantic salmon being used.

SATYENDRA BHAVSAR, Research Scientist, Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change

Is it Safe to Eat Ontario Fish?

In Ontario, 70% of all who fish, eat the fish they catch, 82% of people in Northern Ontario eat the fish they catch, and in Southern Ontario, 57% of the people that fish eat their catch. Contaminants are broken into two groups; Natural contaminants such as mercury, and human activities contaminants such as PCB’s. Contaminants in fish can be 1,000.000 times higher than in the water where they live. Older bigger fish = a higher risk of contaminants.

The Government fish contaminant sampling began in the mid 1960’s. The publishing of this information, started in the mid 1970’s.  Angler can now access the current document on fish contaminants, for the majority of water bodies in Ontario on-line at; www.ontario.ca/fishguide. Make sure that you carefully read the information in this document, and pay attention to the grey areas associated with the fish species you are interested in. Remember also, that fish in remote pristine water bodies may not be free of contaminants. All advisory information depends on the location, and size of the fish.

Practice these general rules: Choose smaller fish to eat, remove skin and fat, and cook on a grill or rack to let the oil from remaining fat escape.

Lastly, eat fish, it’s good for your health!

SPYROS CHRYSOCHOU, General Manager, Stoeger Canada and SYLVAIN TRUDEL, Sr. Technical Analyst, Defence & Law Enforcement Manager, Stoeger Canada

Choosing the Right Ammo:

The most important fact in this subject is point of impact, second is bullet construction, third is caliber, but most important of all is;  Accuracy obtained by the shooter.

Bullet types are broken into three groups, Soft Point, Bonded Soft Point, and Solid Bullets.

The soft point, and bonded soft point bullets have the best rate of expansion. However, remember that a high velocity bullet of this type when shot at short range at your intended game, will result in a straight pass through with no expansion.

Foot pounds of energy means, what the bullet and the powder charge will move in one foot of distance. Example: 3,500 ft. lbs. Of energy will move 3,500 lbs. of mass the distance of one foot.

Important factors to consider when hunting a variety of game, is the grain weight of the bullet.

The heavier the grain (270 grain bullet) will have a much greater drop over distance than a lighter grain bullet (150 grain bullet) when using the same caliber rifle, but the ft. lbs. of energy is much greater with the heavier grain bullets.

The rifle barrel twist will also affect the accuracy of many bullet types, their grain weight, and the powder charge used to push the bullet out of the barrel. A barrel with a 1/48 twist, means the bullet will make one twist in 48 inches of travel in the barrel, similarly, a barrel with a 1/28 twist will make one twist in 28 inches of the barrel. Needed research in shooting publications would be recommended for serious shooters on the topic of barrel twist and bullet types, their grain weights and powder charges.

All bullets go through 3 stages in flight over the distance it travels. Straight flight occurs at first,  than as the bullet travels farther out, it starts to slow down and the sound wave catches up to it causing the bullet to start making a wobble movement, then as the sound wave passes the bullet, it then starts to maintain a straight flight pattern again. Regardless of all the statistics you learn on firearm calibers, the bullet types, rifle barrel twist, and powder charges, your shooting success will depend on range practice and training your body muscles the needed automatic muscle responses required for accuracy in shooting.

Research Grant Award Presentations

OFAH Fisheries Research Grant – sponsored by Toronto Sportsmen’s Show and OFAH Zone H. The winner was Lindsay Boyd for her research on Plant Ecosystem Importance for fish populations in Eastern Georgian Bay.

OFAH Wildlife Research Grant– sponsored by Oakville & District Rod & Gun Club and OFAH Zone G. The winner was Merideth Purcell from Trent University for her research on Changing Habitat Effects on Moose Populations

OFAH St. Catherines Game & Fish Association and Conservation Club of West Lincoln, Fish & Wildlife Research Grant – The winner was Amanda MacDonald of the University of Guelph for her research on the Health of Wild Turkeys in Ontario.

OFAH Dave Ankney/Sandi Johnson Award for Avian Ecology – The winner was Crystal Kelly from Trent University for her research on Population of Sandhill Cranes.

THE MARY PICKFORD CONSERVATION AWARD – The winner for 2015, was the Sioux Lookout Anglers & Hunters.