The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources reports that during their recent May/June 2011 Walleye ENFORCEMENT blitz in Northeastern Ontario their Conservation Officers checked 2300 anglers, resulting in 215 charges and 125 warnings.
Think about those numbers for a minute.
First of all, I know most avid fishermen were well aware that these blitzes were happening, and more than one person was reported overhearing conversations like “the whole area is going to be crawling with CO’s”. So how can there be so many warnings and violations?
This means that during the MNR’s recent ENFORCEMENT blitz potentially up to 50% of the groups of fishermen that were stopped had a warning or charge laid against at least one member in their group!
Sure, I know an individual in some groups may have had multiple charges laid against them. Even if the number is somewhere between 15% and 50%, it still indicates something is wrong.
I also know there are still some people who abuse our natural resources, but in my experience the vast majority of Ontario hunters and fishermen have no intention of breaking the rules. The overall numbers and percentages of “violations” just don’t make sense.
How is it possible that so many otherwise law abiding people are violating Ontario’s various outdoors regulations?
For one, the MNR may be rigorously enforcing detailed, complex laws, and being unreasonable (I can think of a few other words that are regularly used) when they stop the average law abiding citizen. This results in far too many people getting some sort of warning or violation whenever they leave for the outdoors.
I routinely hear stories from other anglers and hunters about their experiences with over-zealous CO’s, new and unknown regulations that most people aren’t aware of, and idiotic interpretations that were used against them.
I know I cringe every time I leave for the bush, even though I have every intention of following the regulations and I carry a copy of the 1/4″ thick fishing or hunting regulations in my pack. There are so many rules and licences to remember, it’s a wonder there aren’t more violations. It’s always in the back of my mind that the average person will be lucky if they’re in complete compliance whenever they come across an ENFORCEMENT officer.