Ontario raccoon hunting rules eased in 2014

John Vance. (Supplied photo)

John Vance. (Supplied photo)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 2:32 PM ET

Ontario is lightening the paperwork burden on raccoon hunters in the new year which raises important questions -- such as who hunts these masked nocturnal scavengers and why?

Turns out it's not a frustrated gardener or a homeowner who's cleaned up one too many tipped-over compost bins.

John Vance, 63, an Ontario hunting expert whose columns appear in Sun Media papers, said raccoon hunting has a long and important history in the province even if it's largely a dying sport these days.

While raccoons don't make for fine dining, they can be eaten, preferably after a dip in boiling water and then a long slow roast in the oven, he said.

And when was the last time your dinner made you money?

Vance said he's earned as much as $75 for a fine raccoon pelt although the going price these days is about $25.

Back in the "heyday" of the 1960s and 1970s, there were organized nighttime raccoon hunts throughout the province, he said.

"Part of the problem today is a lot of the young people don't hunt," he said. "And of course, part of the reason is people, the population, is now largely urban as opposed to rural. And, as a consequence, young hunters' numbers are falling."

As of Jan. 1, the Ontario government is scrapping the law requiring anyone hunting raccoons at night to have a special licence.