Ask a CO: How the pandemic has affected the work of a CO

by Editorial Staff | September 3, 2020
A Conservation Officer standing on a boat
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Southern Marine Enforcement Conservation Officer Ron Arnold on the job.

Q: Has the amount of people out fishing during the pandemic changed your work at all? Are you seeing more or fewer people out since the arrival of COVID-19?

A: Provincially, we noticed an increase in angler activity and those who partook in the spring turkey hunt. As the summer unfolded, it remained busy with folks out angling and enjoying the outdoors. I can say that in the areas I patrol in the province,  the fishing has been fantastic on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

Approach changed

Q: Can you describe any ways that you have had to adapt your approach to dealing with the public with the addition of COVID-19 safety protocols?

A: As per the Chief Medical Officer of Health Guidelines, Conservation Officers have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and practise physical distancing to keep our officers and the public safe. We also have some different procedures for interacting with the public, such as guiding the anglers and hunters on where we would like them to stand or place items and documents, fish or wildlife so we can inspect it for compliance. We really appreciate the public’s help in working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q: What advice do you have as we prepare for the upcoming fall season to get out on the water to fish or into the woods to hunt?

Hunters and anglers who plan to get out and enjoy this time of year should continue to follow the requirements and recommendations of public health officials. We must all do our part to follow these recommendations so these activities can be done safely.

Good info to share

Some good information to share with either friends or family is:

  1. Where you are going
  2. If hunting, consider providing air photos of camps, logging road locations
  3. Where vehicles will be parked
  4. When you plan on returning

It also important for any angler or hunter to familiarize themselves with the regulations before undertaking their activity, such as:

  1. Specific slot/catch and possession limits
  2. Open and closed season dates
  3. Legal hunting times in your area (i.e. half hour before sunrise, half hour past sunset)
  4. Hunter orange requirements

Respect property, follow rules

Q: How are you preparing for the new cormorant open season?

A: Conservation Officers will be active in the field to ensure compliance with Ontario’s Hunting and Fishing regulations. Remember to respect private property and make sure you follow applicable firearms laws which are designed to allow legal and safe hunting practices. If you wish to report unlawful hunting practices, you can call Conservation Officers through the MNRF TIPS LINE 1-877-847-7667 or alternatively you can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS. 

–Ron Arnold (Southern Marine Enforcement, MNRF)

Send your questions by clicking here

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

Sign up for our mailing list

indicates required
Email format


  1. Joe Psaila wrote: With the sudden increase in Covid 19 cases now in the 700s per day, is the MNRF considering canceling the 2020 fall hunt? Our hunt camp for example has 6 hunters and we sleep and eat in a trailer. It is virtually impossible to maintain a 2m distance from each other.
  2. Rob McIntosh wrote: Nice job Ron hope to see you soon.
  3. Marty Hightower wrote: I purchased a non-resident season fishing license just before the Border was close. Will I be able to use my 2020 license in 2021 when the border opens. Or, should I ask for a refund since I could not use the license ?
    • Alesha Howran wrote: If you have a question about your Ontario Outdoors Card and licencing, you can reach out to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry via telephone 1-800-667-1940 or via email or by using