Hunting regulations for migratory birds: Ontario 2018-2019
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 complete information on fines, general prohibitions, permitted hunting methods and equipment, the requirement to have adequate means to retrieve birds immediately, restrictions on the use of bait, the description of hunting zones, and other restrictions on hunting, please refer to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and Migratory Birds Regulations. These, along with other useful information for hunters, can be found on the Government of Canada website, or you may contact:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto Ontario M3H 5T4
You are required to possess a valid federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit with a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp to hunt migratory birds in Canada. This permit and stamp are valid in all provinces and territories. 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. Note that all required permits and licences must be in your possession while you are hunting.
The Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit is now available online on the Government Canada website. Purchase and print your permit from the comfort of home.
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 Wildlife Management Unit boundaries and a list of municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is permitted.
Consultation process and migratory birds regulatory reports
The hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations are reviewed by Environment and Climate Change Canada, with input from the provinces and territories, as well as a range of other interested stakeholders. Environment and Climate Change Canada has developed a consultation process for establishing hunting regulations for migratory birds, and publishes the Migratory Birds Regulatory Report Series that can be found on the Government of Canada website.
Important updates to the hunting regulations for Ontario
- American Black Duck: daily bag & possession limits have increased in all districts and the season length has been extended in the Southern District.
- Canada Geese: season dates in the Central District have shifted to September 1 until December 16; daily bag limits during the early season have increased in some Northern District Wildlife Management Units.
- Woodcock: open season dates (but not closing dates) for woodcock are now the same as Ruffed Grouse across Ontario.
- Mourning Doves: a fixed September 1 until November 30 season is now in effect for the Central and Southern Districts.
Enforcement tool, fine regime, and sentencing provisions
In June 2017, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force and administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) are now available to game officers to enforce designated violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) and its associated regulations. In addition, amendments to the fine regime and sentencing provisions of the MBCA and the regulations necessary to complete the fine regime, the Designation of Regulatory Provisions for the Purposes of Enforcement (Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994) Regulations, came into force on July 12, 2017. The amendments aim to ensure that court-imposed fines more accurately reflect the seriousness of environmental offenses. The new fine regime will be applied by courts following a conviction pursuant to the MBCA or its associated regulations. Under the new fine regime, when a contravention of a designated provision occurs, the offender upon conviction, is subject to minimum and higher maximum fines. For more information on AMPs and the new fine regime, please visit About the Environmental Enforcement Act.
As per subsections 15.1(1) and 15.1(2) of the Migratory Birds Regulations, in Ontario, non-toxic shot must be used to hunt all migratory game birds, except for woodcock. Non-toxic shot must also be used to hunt Mourning Dove. Within National Wildlife Areas, the possession of lead shot is prohibited for all hunting, including the hunting of migratory birds and upland game birds. Hunters should consult provincial or territorial regulations for additional restrictions. For those birds still hunted with lead shot, remove the lead shot before cooking to reduce your exposure to contaminants. As well, remove the skin and fat from fish-eating birds before cooking them.
Barrow’s Goldeneye is listed in the Species at Risk Act as a species of special concern, and the bag and possession limit of 1 remains in place.
Waterfowler Heritage Days provide young hunters who are minors (under 18 years of age) with the opportunity to practise hunting and outdoor skills, learn about wildlife conservation, and reinforce safety training in a structured, supervised environment. Licensed adult hunters who serve as mentors have an opportunity to pass on their considerable skills and knowledge by offering guidance and advice to younger hunters. The following rules are in effect:
- to participate, young hunters do not require the federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit or the Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp
- young participants must comply with all existing safety and licensing requirements found in the Firearms Act and provincial hunting regulations
- participants must be accompanied by a licensed mentor (who is not a minor)
- mentors may not hunt or carry a firearm, and may accompany no more than one young hunter
- only young hunters may hunt when Waterfowler Heritage Days fall outside of the regular open seasons
- daily bag limits are outlined in the Bag and Possession Limits table below, and include footnotes a, e, f and h
Map showing the boundaries of the 4 hunting districts in Ontario, namely the Hudson Bay and James Bay District, the North District, the Central District and the South District.
- Hudson–James Bay District: Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, and the portions of Wildlife Management Units 1D, 25, and 26 lying east of longitude 83°45′ and north of latitude 51°
- Northern District: Wildlife Management Unit 1C, those parts of 1D, 25, and 26 lying west of longitude 83°45′ and south of latitude 51°, and Wildlife Management Units 2 to 24, 27 to 41, and 45
- Central District: Wildlife Management Units 42 to 44 and 46 to 59
- Southern District: Wildlife Management Units 60 to 95 inclusive
Open seasons table
||Waterfowler Heritage Days
Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), gallinules, coots, snipe, geese, woodcock and Mourning Doves
|Open Seasons in Ontario
Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), gallinules, coots, snipe and geese (other than Canada Geese and Cackling Geese)
|Open Seasons in Ontario
Canada Geese and Cackling Geese
|Open Seasons in Ontario
|Open Seasons in Ontario
|1. Hudson-James Bay District||Sept. 1, 2018 a||Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2018||Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2018||Sept. 15 to Dec. 16, 2018||No open season|
|2. Northern District||Sept. 1, 2018 a||Sept. 10 to Dec. 24, 2018||Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2018||Sept. 15 to Dec. 16, 2018||No open season|
|3. Central District||Sept. 8, 2018 b||Sept. 15 to Dec. 29, 2018||Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2018||Sept. 15 to Dec. 16, 2018||Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018 b|
|4. Southern District||Sept. 15, 2018 b||Sept. 22, 2018, to Jan. 5, 2019 c||
||Sept. 15 to Dec. 20, 2018 g
Sept. 25 to Dec. 20, 2018 h
|Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2018 b|
a Except for Mourning Dove.
b Non-toxic shot required.
c In Wildlife Management Unit 65, recorded Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose calls may be used when hunting those geese; any species of migratory bird for which it is open season may be taken while hunting Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese with those calls.
d In municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is permitted by provincial regulations.
e In municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted by provincial regulations.
f Except in Wildlife Management Unit 94.
g In Wildlife Management Units 60-67, 69B.
h In Wildlife Management Units 68, 69A, 70-95.
Bag and possession limits table
|Limits||Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks)
|Canada Geese and Cackling Geese
|Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese
|Rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), Coot and Gallinules
|Daily bag||6 i||5 k, l, m, n||20 o||5||10 p||10||8||15|
|Possession||18 j||No limit||No Limit||15||30 q||30||24||45|
i Not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye. In the Southern District, not more than 2 may be American Black Ducks, and in the Hudson–James Bay District, Northern District and Central District, not more than 4 may be American Black Ducks.
j Not more than 1 may be Barrow’s Goldeneye. In the Southern District, not more than 6 may be American Black Ducks, and in the Hudson–James Bay District, Northern District and Central District, not more than 12 may be American Black Ducks.
k A total of not more than 2 Canada Geese or Cackling Geese, or any combination of them, may be taken daily in Wildlife Management Unit 94 from September 22, 2018, to January 5, 2019.
l A total of not more than 3 Canada Geese or Cackling Geese, or any combination of them, may be taken daily in Wildlife Management Units 82, 84, 85 and 93 from September 22 to October 31, 2018.
m Up to 5 additional Canada Geese or Cackling Geese, or any combination of them, may be taken daily in the following Wildlife Management Units:
- 8, 10, 13, 36, 37, 39, 41 and 45 from September 1 to September 9, 2018
- 42 to 44 and 46 to 59 from September 1 to September 14, 2018
- 60 to 81, 83, 86 to 92, and 95 from September 6 to September 16, 2018; and 60 to 81, 83, and 86 to 92 from February 23 to March 2, 2019, in municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted
n Up to three additional Canada Geese or Cackling Geese, or any combination of them, may be taken daily in
- Wildlife Management Units 82, 84, 85, 93 and 94 from September 6 to September 16, 2018; and
- Wildlife Management Units 82, 84, 85 and 93, from February 23 to March 2, 2019, in municipalities where Sunday gun hunting is not permitted.
o Up to 30 additional Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese may be taken daily in the Hudson–James Bay District.
p Not more than 4 may be Gallinules and not more than 8 may be Coots.
q Not more than 12 may be Gallinules and not more than 24 may be Coots.
The Migratory Birds Regulations also provide for special conservation harvest periods when hunters may take overabundant species. Please note that additional hunting methods or equipment are permitted during the special conservation harvest periods. See the table below for details.
|Area||Period during which Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese may be killed||Additional hunting method or equipment|
|Wildlife Management Unit 65||Mar 1 to May 31, 2019 r||Recorded bird calls s|
r Hunting and hunting equipment are allowed only on farmland.
s “Recorded bird calls” refers to bird calls of a species referred to in the heading of column 2.
Note: The 2018 federal permit is also valid for the 2019 spring special conservation harvest for Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese.
Report your migratory bird bands
Call 1-800-327-band (2263) or go to: Report a bird with a federal band or color marker.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
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