Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations, 2017-2018: Ontario


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 Environment and Climate Change Canada website, or you may contact:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario M3H 5T4
Tel.: 1-800-668-6767

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 Environment and Climate Change 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 Environment and Climate Change Canada website.

New 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 designated offenses are contravened, the offender upon conviction, is subject to minimum and higher maximum fines. For more information on AMPs and the new fine regime, please visit 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;
  • 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; and
  • daily bag limits are outlined in the Bag and Possession Limits table below, and include footnotes a, e and f.

Hunting districts

Hunting districts of Ontario

Hunting Districts map of Ontario

Long Description for the Hunting Districts of Ontario

Map showing the boundaries between the 4 Hunting Districts in Ontario, which are the Hudson-James Bay District, the Northern District, the Central District and the Southern District.

  1. 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°
  2. 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
  3. Central District
    Wildlife Management Units 42 to 44 and 46 to 59
  4. Southern District
    Wildlife Management Units 60 to 95
Open seasons and waterfowler heritage days in Ontario (No open season for Harlequin Ducks)
AreaWaterfowler Heritage Days
Ducks (other than Harlequin Ducks), rails (other than Yellow Rails and King Rails), gallinules, coots, snipe and 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
Mourning Doves
1. Hudson-James Bay
Sept. 2, 2017Note a of TableSept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2017Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2017Sept. 1 to
Dec. 15, 2017
No open season
2. Northern DistrictSept. 2, 2017 Note a of TableSept. 10 to Dec. 24, 2017Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2017Sept. 15 to
Dec. 15, 2017
No open season
3. Central DistrictSept. 9, 2017Note a of TableSept. 16, 2016, to Dec. 30, 2017Sept. 5 to Dec. 20, 2017Sept. 20 to
Dec. 20, 2017
Sept. 5 to
Nov. 13, 2017
4. Southern DistrictSept. 16, 2017Note a of TableSept. 23, 2017, to
Jan. 6, 2018 Note b of TableNotef of Table
Sept. 7 to Sept. 17, 2017Note c of Tabl7
Sept. 7 to Sept. 17, 2017 (except for any Sunday within this period)Note d of Table

Sept. 23 to Dec. 27, 2017Note c of Tabl7
Sept. 23, 2017, to Jan. 6, 2018
(except for any Sunday within
this period)Note d of Table

Feb. 24 to Mar. 3, 2018
(except for any Sunday within
this period)Note d of TableNotee of Table
Sept. 25 to
Dec. 20, 2017
Sept.7 to
Nov. 15, 2017
Bag and possession limits in Ontario
LimitsDucks (other than
Harlequin Ducks)
Canada Geese and Cackling GeeseWhite-fronted
Geese and Brant
Snow GeeseRails (other
than Yellow Rails
and King Rails)
and snipe
GallinulesWoodcock and cootsMourning Doves
Daily bag6Note g of Table5Note i of TableNote j of TableNote k of TableNote l of Table520Note m of Table104815
Possession18Note h of TableNo limit15No limit30122445

Overabundant species

The Migratory Birds Regulations also provide for special conservation periods when hunters may take overabundant species. Please note that additional hunting methods or equipment are permitted during the special conservation periods. See the table below for details.

Measures in Ontario concerning overabundant species
AreaPeriod during which Snow Geese may be killedAdditional hunting method or equipment
Wildlife Management Unit 65Mar. 1 to May 31, 2018Note m of TableRecorded bird callsNote n of Table


The 2017 federal permit is also valid for the 2018 spring special conservation harvest for Snow Geese.

100 Years of taking birds under our wings


The Canada-US Migratory Birds Convention


The Migratory Birds Convention Act

Centennial celebrations

For more information on centennial celebrations, visit Celebrating 100 years of bird conservation

Report your migratory bird bands

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

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