ERB on Tracking Dogs

Here is the revised proposed regulation as it pertains to tracking wounded big game Hunting Licence Enhancements

• Hunting Dog Licensing:
„« Amend regulations to exempt the requirement for a Dog Licence for tracking dogs that are retrieving/tracking a lawfully wounded elk, moose or deer if the tracking dog is kept on a leash that has a maximum length of 10 metres and under the physical control of the dog handler.
„« Amend regulations to exempt the dog handler who is tracking a lawfully wounded elk, moose or deer from the requirement for a hunting licence if they are not in possession of a firearm, they are accompanied by a hunter that has a licence and associated tag for the animal being retrieved/tracked, and have physical control of a tracking dog that is kept on a leash that has a maximum length of 10 metres.
„« Under this proposal, the current approach of three separate dog licences (i.e. moose/deer, bear and raccoon) would be combined into a single Dog Licence that would be required for each dog that a hunter is using for hunting moose, deer, black bear or raccoon.
„« All other aspects of hunting with a dog would remain unchanged as part of this proposal.
„« This proposed change is expected to simplify and streamline the dog licensing approach for hunting.

There are also a number of other proposed changes
– Eliminate all categories of Outdoor Card and have one Outdoor Card that covers both Apprentices and Licensed Hunters
– Licensing modernization – i.e. you can print your own license
– Modernization of Game Seals – replace game seals with “Tags”. As long as you are with the legally harvested animal that game seal does not have to be attached. It can be on your person. It must be attached when you are no longer with the animal

Hunter-Harvest Reporting Modernization
• Amend regulations to modernize hunter-harvest reporting, which includes changes to mandatory reporting requirements, deadlines for reporting, and the consequences of not completing mandatory reporting requirements. The following regulatory changes are proposed:

Hunter Apprenticeship Program Modernization
• Amend regulations to modernize and enhance the Hunter Apprenticeship Program by requiring apprentice hunters to obtain an Outdoors Card and allowing them the option of purchasing hunting licences or tags that are not obtained through a draw (e.g. small game licence, wild turkey tag, antlered deer licence). This would allow apprentice hunters to have the option of hunting under their own licence/bag limit or continuing to hunt under their mentor’s licence/bag limit.

• Licensing Requirements to Hunt on a Game Bird Hunting Preserve
„« Amend regulations to allow both resident and non-resident hunters to hunt on a licensed game bird hunting preserve with a valid Outdoors Card and hunter accreditation. Hunters would continue to be required to provide proof of their hunter accreditation and firearms licensing to the operator of the game bird hunting preserve.

Here is the link to the EBR posting. There is a 60 day comment period.

Our assumption is that tracking can occur at night. The proposed regulation does not require the dog handler to have a hunting license, nor does it require the dog to be licensed to hunt, on the proviso that the licensed hunter who wounded the animal accompanies the tracker and dog. In other words, MNRF is providing an exemption from licensed hunting to track and recover wounded big game.

MNRF has always been very reluctant to acknowledge that someone searching for a wounded animal is not hunting. By their interpretation it is hunting. Thousands of times every fall, hunters search for wounded deer, moose, bear, waterfowl, etc. after legal hunting time, without dogs, and are not charged; i.e. officers use discretion. I’ve been with CO’s searching for ducks well after legal shooting hours.

I would have no hesitation to track a wounded big game animal with a leashed dog after legal shooting hours under the proposed changes. There has to be an identifiable hit site with blood or you wouldn’t be out there tracking. Your not going to get MNRF to say that tracking a wounded animal with or without a dog isn’t hunting, but to me they are clearly sending a message that they are amending the regulations to allow dog handlers with leashed dogs to track and recover wounded big game. I really can’t envision a CO laying a charge and if there is an identifiable hit site I can’t see a charge leading to a conviction. Even under the previous regulation officers were advised to “use discretion”.

My advice – get your dog well trained and get ready to track.

by Kerry Coleman,
Founding Member, BGBTO (Big Game Blood Trackers of Ontario).