Ask a CO: Can you release game birds on public land?

by Editorial Staff | August 11, 2022

Q: Can an individual release game birds on public land for the purpose of hunting them during the open hunting season?

Rick Steele, Stayner

A: Generally, game birds can’t be released without some type of licence or authorization from the MNRF. There are some exceptions for ring-necked pheasants and Chukar.

Holders of a small game licence can release as many as 10 pheasant on their property during the open season for pheasant; they may also release as many as 10 chukar per calendar year on their property. Municipalities that are authorized by the MNRF to issue municipal hunting licences can release pheasant during the open season, or during the two weeks before the season opens.

Persons who are authorized to conduct dog training and field trials may release pheasant or chukar during the time that the authorization is valid, in the area where the authorization applies.

Licensed game bird hunting preserve owners or operators may release chukar or species of game bird for which the licence is valid on the preserve during the time that the licence is valid.

In all other situations, including on public land, authorization is required from the MNRF. Anyone interested in releasing birds should contact their local Ministry office.

ANSWER BY: David Critchlow, Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF

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Originally published in the July 2021 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.

Please check the most recent Ontario hunting and fishing regulations summaries, as rules and regulations can change.

For more instalments of Ask a CO, click here

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  1. Dwayne Lovegrove wrote: It seems to happen every deer hunting season here in Lanark Highlands, and last year was no different: I was quietly sitting in my tree-stand during the gun season, patiently waiting for that prize buck that I’ve seen on my game cameras, when I heard it. Incessant barking... getting closer and closer. Within a few minutes, someone’s hunting dogs were chasing deer through my woodlot – property that I paid a ton of money for so that I could hunt in peace. Needless to say, I saw no deer for the remainder of that day, or the next. Last year, I caught the owners of the two dogs that ran through 30 minutes apart. Besides cussing me out for demanding that they control their animals(!), they defiantly challenged me to take them to court. “You’ll lose, because it’s impossible to control where the dogs go” was their reasoning. These dog hunters are effectively hunting the deer on my property by chasing the animals to where they can shoot them. Are there not GPS-based solutions available to create effective boundaries to control the dogs? Can dog hunters whose animals trespass on other people’s property be successfully prosecuted? What am I legally allowed to do to protect my property?
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Dwayne, Here's another Ask A CO that may prove helpful: