MNR applauds OFAH partnership, warns of impending budget cut impacts
PETERBOROUGH, Ontario, March 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) hosted its 84th Annual General Meeting and Fish & Wildlife Conference in Mississauga from March 15 to 17 and welcomed more than 700 outdoors enthusiasts.
Several key staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) presented updates on their areas of responsibility, among them Deputy Minister David O'Toole, speaking on behalf of MNR Minister Michael Gravelle who was unable to attend due to illness. Mike Morencie, Director of Fish and Wildlife Services Branch, Lois Deacon, Director of Enforcement Branch and Christie Curley, Wildlife Management Coordinator, Wildlife Policy Section also provided overviews on the new fish and game licensing system, enforcement, and moose management respectively.
"There are so many partnerships that we can celebrate," said O'Toole, of the work the OFAH and MNR achieve together. He cited the Invading Species Awareness Program, Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program and Elk Restoration Program as examples of successful collaborations, and encouraged hunters to review the current MNR proposal to extend the elk season, and to watch for a proposal to allow leashed dogs to track and retrieve big game animals in areas of the province where it is currently prohibited. O'Toole went on to caution that all ministries will feel the effects of the upcoming budget, as the government works to reduce its $16 billion deficit. "There is no question that there will be fiscal pressure on the [fish and wildlife] program in the coming year … Every stakeholder that we deal with will feel the impact of these decisions."
"We appreciate the cooperation and commitment of the Ministry of Natural Resources under the leadership of Minister Michael Gravelle, and we look forward to continuing to work together on conservation and restoration programs that enhance our natural resources. We understand that this budget will be a tough one, but we will act on behalf of Ontario's anglers and hunters to continue to press for action on fish and wildlife issues, and to conserve our natural legacy," said Mike Reader, OFAH Executive Director.
Tim Hudak, Leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario was the featured speaker at the President's reception on Thursday evening. Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino delivered the keynote address at the Conservation Awards Gala on Friday evening.
Other speakers included federal, provincial and Algonquin representatives of the Algonquin Land Claim negotiations and representatives of the Aquaculture industry. Conference presentations given between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm on Friday were livestreamed via the Internet and are currently available online at www.ofah.org/conference.
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 675 member clubs, the OFAH is the province's largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization, and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org or follow the OFAH on Facebook and Twitter.