Ask a CO: What are the penalties if a misidentified moose is shot?

by Editorial Staff | October 11, 2022
A Moose Cow And Calf

Q: There was discussion around our campfire regarding misidentified moose — specifically, calves and yearlings. If there is no obvious negligence when the incorrect one is shot, what is the most likely outcome as far as penalties? How should this situation be handled?

Jason PaquetteNorth Bay

A: Every situation is going to depend on the specific circumstances associated with it. In any case where an individual or party shoots an animal that they did not have the proper licences or tags for, they should report the matter to a conservation officer. This can be done by calling the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667. A conservation officer will investigate make a decision based on the circumstances.

How to tell the differences between moose

A moose under the age of one is a calf. Calves have a small, fine-featured nose, short ears, nearly no bell — a beard-like flap of hair-covered skin under the throat — a short, triangular-shaped face, and a shorter, stouter head than that of an adult. They stand about 1.2 metres (4 feet) high at the shoulder and typically weigh 160 to 180 kilograms (350 to 400 pounds).

A moose in its second year is a yearling and is considered an adult moose in Ontario. Yearlings and adults (cows and bulls) have a long, over-hanging bulbous nose, longer, more rectangular-shaped face with prominent ears and bell. Their bodies are also more rectangular than calves.

In the fall when calves are five- or six-months-old, they tend to have a squarish body shape. They’re nearly as long as they are tall and have a sharp hump.

Calves’ tracks are generally less than 7.5 centimetres (3 inches) wide and their scat only about 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) across.

For more info visit:

ANSWER BY: David Critchlow, Provincial Enforcement Specialist, NDMNRF

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Originally published in Ontario OUT of DOORS’ 2021-2022 Hunting Annual. 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. Mike wrote: We've shot a moose that measured under 4 feet. We had a cow/calf tag and we were not sure if it was a cow or calf. The moose at the shoulder was under 4 feet. Looking at the teeth it was a yearling so the 4 foot measurement is not a good indicator.