Pilot Project For Spring Bear Hunt

Fishing Camps in Northwestern Ontario could easily supply the challenge for new fishing enthusiasts - Photo Courtesy Wasaya Wild
Fishing Camps in Northwestern Ontario could easily supply the challenge for new fishing enthusiasts - Photo Courtesy Wasaya Wild

Black bear

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro has proposed the re-instatement of a spring bear hunt. Now the Province of Ontario is proposing a pilot project for a spring bear hunt. 

The Government, in a media statement says, “Ontario is proposing a pilot program that will enhance public safety while offering an effective response to nuisance bear issues in the north”.

Ontario has proposed a two-year bear management pilot program in wildlife management units 13, 14, 29, 30, 36, 39, 41 and 42, all of which have reported high levels of nuisance bear activity.

Communities in and around these units include Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.

A limited bear hunt open to Ontario residents only would take place from May 1 to June 15, 2014 and 2015.  

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says, “Fourteen years after the Harris Conservatives cancelled the spring bear hunt under pressure from animal rights activists, the Wynne Liberal government is proposing a two-year pilot project in eight wildlife management units in northern Ontario to address problem bear issues.” 

“Ontario’s spring bear hunt was a successful wildlife population management tool that assisted in maintaining the density of bears at levels that minimized dangerous encounters between people and bears, and controlled the population at a sustainable level. This was good for public safety and good for bears,” said OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. 

“Since the cancellation of the spring bear hunt in 1999, the OFAH has been advocating for a return of the hunt and we are pleased that the provincial government has finally recognized the value of this valuable wildlife management tool and has proposed a bear management program in response to problem bears in northern Ontario. While this is not the restoration of a full spring hunt, it is a positive start, and the OFAH looks forward to working with the provincial government and local municipalities so that the full benefits of regulated hunting can be realized,” Lombardo added.

The move is unlikely to open the door for outfitters in Northwestern Ontario to boost their businesses, as only Ontario residents would be eligible for the spring hunt.

The OFAH state, “The absence of a spring bear hunt has created a severe public safety risk, with five bear attacks being reported across the province this year. Before its cancellation, the spring bear hunt also generated over $40 million per year in economic activity and sustained a number of jobs in northern Ontario, jobs that have since flowed to the neighbouring provinces of Manitoba and Quebec which continued to have hunts”. 

“The OFAH has been unwavering in its position that the spring bear hunt is a valuable wildlife management tool that enhances public safety and controls the bear population at optimum levels. The recent introduction of Bill 114 by Liberal MPP Bill Mauro has served to focus attention on this growing problem,” said Lombardo.

Under the proposed pilot, hunting bear cubs, or females with cubs would be illegal. The province will monitor and evaluate the success of this pilot project on an ongoing basis.

In order to participate, municipal councils would have to pass a resolution agreeing to opt into the program. Ontario will continue to work with municipalities on ways to limit human-bear interactions.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is home to a healthy and sustainable black bear population with up to 105,000 black bears living in the province.
  • Currently across Canada, each province and territory with black bears has a spring and fall bear hunt except Nova Scotia and Ontario, which only have fall hunts.
  • The public will be invited to comment on the two-year pilot project through Ontario’s Environmental Registry in 2014.
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