QUEENS PARK – Politics – “The re-introduction of the Spring Bear Hunt is something that a lot of Northerners have been calling for — to reduce the danger presented by nuisance bears, protect the region’s moose population, and give the North’s economy a boost,” stated Bill Mauro the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan.
“The primary reason for this bill is public safety,” states Mauro.
“This issue is becoming more important as time goes on. The growth of the region’s bear population seems to be resulting in more frequent encounters and attacks by aggressive bears. The debate over the Spring Hunt has not really been about whether we hunt bears in this province — Ontario has a Fall Hunt — and I don’t think any of the main parties are calling for an end to that,” added Mauro. “The concern with the Spring Hunt is over the orphaning of cubs. My bill provides the flexibility to introduce measures to protect female bears and their cubs. I hope that we can strike a balance that will bring about the re-introduction of the Hunt, while addressing the concerns that many have about the orphaning of bear cubs”.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and other outdoors groups have been advocating a return of the spring bear hunt.
The proposed change in legislation would also have a very positive economic benefit for outfitters. The spring bear hunt could bring tens of millions of dollars to outfitters at a time when otherwise their operations are quiet. Mauro states it would be a “Focused boost to a small market that would generate intense benefit”.
“If this bill goes forward, I’m happy to work with others to help find that balance,” concluded Mauro.
The bill would introduce an open season from April 15th to June 15th.
The re-introduction of the hunt would:
- Reduce the likelihood that aggressive bear activity will result in physical harm or death to people in Ontario;
- Help protect crops and livestock;
- Reduce bears’ impact on bees — between the years 2000 and 2008, black bears reportedly destroyed over 4,000 beehives/colonies;
- Boost Northern Ontario’s moose population by reducing the number of moose calves killed by bears;
- Increase tourist activity in Northern Ontario.
Mauro has indicated that he is open to the introduction of measures that would reduce the likelihood that female bears are killed during a Spring Bear Hunt.
- Ontario’s Spring Bear Hunt was cancelled in 1999 by Mike Harris’ PC government.
- While the number of recorded human-bear encounters has varied from year to year, both up and down, the general trend has been a dramatic rise – from 1,000 in 1999 to over 13,000 in 2011.
- Since the end of the Spring Bear Hunt, there have been approximately 1,400 fewer bears harvested each year. Since 1999, that amounts to roughly 20,000 bears.
- Ontario currently allows the hunting of black bears — but not in the Spring.