Summary of Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations: Ontario, August 2022 to July 2023

Summary

To hunt migratory game birds in Canada, you must possess:

  • a valid Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit
  • a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp on the permit

These two documents are issued by the federal government and are valid in all provinces and territories.

The 2022 federal permit is also valid for the 2023 spring special conservation harvest for Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese.

Hunting districts

Bird Hunting zone, see long description
Hunting Districts
Long description

1. Hudson–James Bay district

Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1A, 1B, and the portions of WMUs 1D, 25, and 26 lying north of latitude 51° and east of longitude 83°45′.

2. Northern district

WMU 1C, those portions of WMU 1D, 25 and 26 lying south of latitude 51° and west of longitude 83°45′, as well as WMUs 2 to 24 inclusive, 27 to 41 inclusive, and 45.

3. Central district

WMUs 42 to 44 inclusive, 46 to 50 inclusive, and 53 to 59 inclusive.

4. Southern district

WMUs 60 to 95 inclusive.

For more information on WMUs, contact the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry webpage

Note that south of the French and Mattawa rivers, Sunday gun hunting is permitted by provincial regulations in some municipalities, but not all. Season dates for Canada Geese and Cackling Geese in the Southern District may differ between municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is permitted and those where it is not. Hunters should consult the provincial regulations for information about WMUs and a list of municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is permitted.

Most provinces and territories have additional licence requirements for hunting migratory birds and/or to carry firearms. To know what you require, and if there are further restrictions for hunting migratory birds, please verify the applicable regulations for the province/territory where you will be hunting. Municipalities may have additional restrictions on discharging firearms. Note that all required permits and licences must be in your possession while you are hunting.

Buy permit online

You can purchase and print your Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit by visiting the Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit web page.

New! It is no longer required to sign the Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit (both physical and electronic forms). This allows you to carry your permit in a digital format, such as on a mobile device. If you choose to carry your permit on your mobile device, it must be in the PDF format provided by the e-permitting system (a photograph or screenshot of your permit is not valid). It is also your responsibility to be able to show the permit to a game officer immediately upon request.

Consultation process and migratory birds regulatory reports

A national consultation process has been developed to provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in developing the migratory birds hunting regulations. For more information, consult the Migratory Birds Regulatory Report Series web page.

Important updates

The format of the Summary has changed. The Migratory Birds Regulations have been modernized. Many important clarifications and changes have been made to the regulations regarding migratory game bird hunting, including: the concept of possession, gifting of harvested birds, labelling requirements, hunting methods and equipment, and the introduction of new permits.

New! Youth Migratory Game Bird Hunting (MGBH) Permit

Waterfowler Heritage Days have been abolished and replaced with a MGBH permit for youth, which is referred to as the Youth MGBH permit.

Hunters who are minors (less than 18 years old) may now hunt with a Youth MGBH permit. The Youth MGBH permit, as well as the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation stamp, can be obtained through our online purchasing system, free of charge.

The Youth MGBH permit provides young hunters with the opportunity to practice their skills under the supervision of an adult mentor (in possession of a MGBH Permit) throughout the full Open season and the special conservation season, and provides Youth MGBH Permit holders with their own daily bag and possession limits.

Mentors must possess their own MGBH permit, must have held such a permit in a previous year, and may accompany no more than two youth hunters in all regions except Ontario. In Ontario, according to provincial law, a mentor may accompany no more than one youth. Mentors may carry a firearm, and may hunt. For more information on the new rules pertaining to hunting migratory game birds in the modernized Migratory Birds Regulations, 2022, please consult the Migratory Game Bird Hunting web page.

Enforcement

The Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations authorize game officers to use administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) to enforce the provisions of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) and its associated regulations.

The fine regime and penalty provisions in the MBCA and the Designation of Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994) Regulations allow courts to impose penalties that reflect the seriousness of offences following a conviction pursuant to the MBCA or its associated regulations.

For more information on AMPs and the fine regime, consult the About the Environmental Enforcement Act web page.

Game officers

Image of badge

Game officers enforce the federal MBCA throughout Canada. This law regulates human interventions, such as hunting that could adversely affect long-term wildlife conservation. For any questions, please contact Wildlife Enforcement by telephone or by email at the contact information at the end of this hunting summary.

Shot

  • Non-toxic shot must be used to hunt all migratory game birds, except for Woodcock
  • Within National Wildlife Areas that allow hunting, the possession of lead shot is prohibited for all types of hunting, including the hunting of migratory and upland game birds
  • Hunters should consult provincial or territorial regulations for additional restrictions

To reduce your exposure to contaminants in meat, make sure, before cooking it, to:

  • remove the shot from birds hunted with lead shot
  • remove the skin and fat from fish-eating birds

Species at Risk

  • Barrow’s Goldeneye is listed in the Species at Risk Act as a species of special concern, and the daily bag and possession limit is 1 bird
  • There is no Open season for Harlequin Ducks, King Rails and Yellow Rails

Crime stoppers

Anyone wishing to report illegal hunting activities, illegal selling of birds or other offences related to migratory birds is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or “Échec au crime” in the province of Quebec at 1-800-711-1800.. Your call is anonymous, and you may be eligible for a cash reward.

Open season and daily bag and possession limits for migratory game birds in Ontario

Hudson-James Bay District
Species Open season Daily bag limit Possession limit

Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), combined

September 1 to December 16

6 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye and not more than 4 may be American Black Ducks)

18 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye)

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 1 to December 16

5

No limit

Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, combined

September 1 to December 16

50

No limit

Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese), combined

September 1 to December 16

5

15

Rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), Coots and Gallinules, combined

September 1 to December 16

10 (not more than 8 may be Coots and not more than 4 may be Gallinules)

30

Woodcock

September 15 to December 16

8

24

Snipe

September 1 to December 16

10

30

Mourning Doves

No Open season

N/A

N/A

Northern District
Species Open season Daily bag limit Possession limit

Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), combined

September 10 to December 25

6 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye and not more than 4 may be American Black Ducks)

18 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye)

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 1 to September 9

10 (in WMUs 8, 10, 13, 36, 37, 39, 41 and 45)

5 (in other WMUs)

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 10 to December 16

5

No limit

Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, combined

September 1 to December 16

20

No limit

Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese), combined

September 1 to December 16

5

15

Rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), Coots and Gallinules, combined

September 10 to December 25

10 (not more than 8 may be Coots and not more than 4 may be Gallinules)

30

Woodcock

September 15 to December 16

8

24

Snipe

September 10 to December 25

10

30

Mourning Doves

No Open season

N/A

N/A

Central District
Species Open season Daily bag limit Possession limit

Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), combined

September 17 to January 1

6 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye and not more than 4 may be American Black Ducks)

18 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye)

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 1 to September 16

10

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 17 to December 16

5

No limit

Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, combined

September 1 to December 16

20

No limit

Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese), combined

September 1 to December 16

5

15

Rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), Coots and Gallinules, combined

September 17 to January 1

10 (not more than 8 may be Coots and not more than 4 may be Gallinules)

30

Woodcock

September 15 to December 16

8

24

Snipe

September 17 to January 1

10

30

Mourning Doves

September 1 to November 30

15

45

Southern District
Species Open season Daily bag limit Possession limit

Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), combined

September 24 to January 8

6 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye and not more than 2 may be American Black Ducks)

18 (not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye)

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 8 to September 18. In municipalities where hunting with guns on Sunday is permitted by provincial regulations.

10 (in WMUs 60 to 81, 83, 86 to 92 and 95)

8 (in WMUs 82, 84, 85, 93 and 94)

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 24 to December 28. In municipalities where hunting with guns on Sunday is permitted by provincial regulations.

5 (in WMUs 60 to 64, 66 to 81, 83, 86 to 92 and 95, from September 24 to October 28)

3 (in WMUs 65, 82, 84, 85 and 93, from September 24 to October 28)

5 (in WMUs 60 to 93 and 95 from October 29 to December 28)

3 (in WMU 94)

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 8 to September 18. In municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted by provincial regulations.

Excluding any Sunday in these periods.

10 (in WMUs 60 to 81, 83, 86 to 92 and 95)

8 (in WMUs 82, 84, 85, 93 and 94)

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

September 24 to January 7. In municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted by provincial regulations.

Excluding any Sunday in these periods.

5 (in WMUs 60 to 64, 66 to 81, 83, 86 to 92 and 95, from September 24 to October 28)

3 (in WMUs 65, 82, 84, 85 and 93, from September 24 to October 28)

5 (in WMUs 60 to 93 and 95 from October 29 to December 28)

3 (in WMU 94)

No limit

Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, combined

February 25 to March 4. In municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted by provincial regulations.

Excluding any Sunday in these periods.

10 (in WMUs 60 to 81, 83, 86 to 92 and 95)

8 (in WMUs 82, 84, 85 and 93)

No Open season in WMU 94

No limit

Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, combined

September 24 to January 8. This Open season excludes Sundays in municipalities where hunting with guns on Sunday is not permitted by provincial regulations

February 25 to March 4, excluding Sundays, in municipalities where hunting with guns on Sunday is not permitted by provincial regulations

20

No limit

Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese, Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese), combined

September 24 to January 8

5

15

Rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), Coots and Gallinules, combined

September 24 to January 8

10 (not more than 8 may be Coots and not more than 4 may be Gallinules)

30

Woodcock

September 15 to September 24. The season is only open in WMUs 60 to 67 and 69B

September 25 to December 20. The season is only open in WMUs 60 to 95

8

24

Snipe

September 24 to January 8

10

30

Mourning Doves

September 1 to November 30

15

45

Special measures for overabundant species in Ontario

Southern District (only WMUs 65, 66, 67 and 69B)
Species Open season Daily bag limit Possession limit Additional hunting method or equipment

Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese, combined

September 24 to January 8

February 25 to March 4, excluding Sundays, in municipalities where hunting with guns on Sundays is not permitted by provincial regulations.

March 1 to May 31

20

No limit

Electronic bird calls of Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese may be used. While hunting those species with those calls, any other species of migratory bird for which it is Open season may be hunted

For more information

The information presented here is a summary of the law. If there is a discrepancy between the law and this summary, the law prevails.

For more information, consult:

You may also direct your questions to:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4

Tel.: 1-800-668-6767
enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

Report your migratory bird bands

Call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) to leave a message or go to the Report a bird with a Federal Band or Color Marker website.

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