The Spring Bear Slaughter

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Editors Note: I am very pleased to welcome back Karen Johns to local media. Karen will write her column for Saultonline.com on a regular basis. Welcome aboard Karen!

I am very disappointed with our Minister of Natural Resources, David Orazietti.

It was only last August that Orazietti said this on the CBC News, Sudbury:

“Having only one hunt a year hasn’t led to an increased bear population, Minister David Orazietti said.
“The numbers are relatively stable,” he said. “Every year we have a different level of food sources and varying weather conditions affect and do affect the number of nuisance bears we have in various communities.”

Just a few months later he changed his tune and supported the reinstatement of the spring bear hunt.

Why? Politics more than anything I believe.

There really is no justification for this slaughter of innocent bears. No other animal is allowed to be hunted in the spring when babies are very small and vulnerable.

Although these hunters are to hunt only boars, there are many sows who are killed, mostly because it is very difficult to tell the difference between male and female bears from less than a few feet away (and a lot of the hunters don’t give a damn anyway). One person who commented on my Facebook page said that there is nothing wrong with baby bears dying. “It’s just preventative medicine.” It’s sad , but there are many who have this attitude and it truly sickens me. Obviously these people do not believe in the sanctity of any life form than there own.

In the last spring bear hunt almost 300 cubs were orphaned. This is not acceptable. The Criminal Code prohibits causing or allowing animals to suffer. When cubs are orphaned and left to starve to death, it IS cruel and barbaric. Baby bears will have slow painful deaths from starvation if their mothers are killed yet the politicians who support the spring bear hunt ignore this.

According to bear statistics, there have only been 7 black bear attacks resulting in deaths by 4 male bears in over 100 years in Ontario. By comparison from 1964 to 2010 there were 12 fatal attacks by dogs in Ontario according to the Canine Research Council. Many of the bear encounters reported as attacks are “bluff charges” resulting in no physical contact with the person. There has never been a black bear attack resulting in a fatality within a community anywhere in Canada. Of the few black bear attacks in North America over half have involved unleashed dogs.

I am not naive. I know that bears can be dangerous. But so are many animals. The key is education. I wouldn’t expect anyone to try and get close to a bear. That is just asking for trouble. But you can take steps to avoid dangerous encounters. If you are walking in the bush, make noise! Blow a whistle, sing, yell, anything just to let the bear, if there is one in the area, know that you are there. And carry bear spray in case they do attack (highly unlikely) Almost all bears are shy and do not want to get close to humans. If a bear walks through your property and you can’t enjoy just watching it, then bang on some pots and pans, make a lot of noise. It will leave.

Yes, there are a few rogue bears who might be very aggressive. However allowing the spring bear hunt is no guarantee that those bears will be killed. They might kill 5000 bears and yet not get that one bear who may be dangerous. There is no way of knowing. I find the idea that we must kill bears no matter what their disposition truly disgusting.

Almost all of the bears who will be killed this spring are not bears who we have to fear. They are hungry, looking for food, and that pile of whatever the hunters leave at their kill-sites to attract them, is irresistible to them.

And what a shameful way to “hunt”. It involves no “hunting”. It’s just some fool with a gun waiting for the bears to come to him/her so that all he/her has to do is raise his gun and fire away.

Bears do not know property lines, school yards, nor do they define territory by human standards. If you live near or in the bush, you are going to have wildlife around. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, deer, moose and yes, bears.

So what should we do?

Kill everything that doesn’t fit into our idea of a comfortable existence? I think not.

I spend my summers and parts of spring and fall in Batchawana Bay. Many different animals walk through our property, including bears.

In the fall they come to eat the apples off the trees that grow there. One fall a mother bear and her cubs came daily to stuff themselves on apples to store up for the long winter ahead. People went about their daily business and the mother couldn’t have cared less. She paid us no attention at all, so intent was she to feed herself and her cubs.

No, the Spring Bear Hunt is , cruel, and unproven to provide more safety for people.

It will make some people feel better and prop up some of the politicians who chose this to gain a few points.

Let’s call the Spring Bear Hunt what it truly is: The Spring Bear Slaughter.

Karen Johns for Saultonline.com

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am a former hunter but never hunted bear. Normally bear are not a problem, that is until they become over populated or when food becomes scarce which are one and the same thing. A cull may not seem humane but is necessary at times. Hungry bears roaming city streets are very dangerous. The other solution would be to continue to trap them but release them on lower Young St, so the tree huggers could have pets. It’s a waste of time releasing them in Northern ON. A friend of mine traps them in Blind River and has hauled them as far as 150 miles away, only to have them return three days later. An emotional issue, probably better left alone.

  2. Ed: You sound angry enough to kill somebody…a mama bear perhaps? .. Take a pill & refrain from being so trigger hungry…for everyone’s safety, I don’t think you should be in the woods this year. Consider spending your spare time taking a course in anger management & how to relate to people about matters of the heart.

  3. I am amazed someone gives you a forum to spew this crap. You are as uneducated about the hunt as anyone I have heard. Take your coar full of tree lovers and drive off a cliff.

  4. The last time they had a spring bear hunt, over 300 cubs were left orphaned. someone shot their mothers. A hunter will likely not see the cubs because the mother will leave the babies behind while she goes out to investigate, and most people cannot tell the difference between a sow or a boar. They will often shoot anyway. And there are no repercussions if someone shoots a sow so many don’t care

  5. Your headline reads “The Spring Bear Slaughter” If you want to write a story about a bear slaughter write about the town of Marathon that had to kill about 35 bears one summer because bears were roaming the streets like cats and dogs and were getting onto everything. It was to the point it was unsafe to walk the streets. This spring bear hunt is a pilot project that is long overdue. As for cubs starving because of the hunt – your wrong. Just becuase someone hunts that does not mean that they are some kind of cruel monster. You assume or imply that hunters will take a sow when she has cubs. Thats not the case at all.

  6. Humans have been a part of natural selection for hundreds of years. Bears have two natural predators, male bears that kill cubs and humans. The natural selection you speak of is starvation, a much crueler death then the relatively quick one of a bullet. I don’t hunt bear myself but I understand the need for it.

    • One of the main points of this column is that many baby bears ARE going to starve and die cruelly because of this “hunt”

  7. The bear hunt isn’t needed. Natural selection will take it’s course like it has for hundreds of years. No need for us humans to get involved like we always do!!

  8. Stories like this anti hunting article will only lead to unpopularity for your website in Northern Ontario. More bear hunting and bear hunters are needed to curb the population of these animals. They have become overpopulated in Northern Ontario and are a safety threat.

  9. Welcome back Karen hope your feeling well. Excellent subject I am not a hunter and really don’t understand the mindset of hunting.To me it is a waste of time.Owning a firearm for me is out of the question at this time.I have been trained on the use of different firearms and that purpose was to kill.
    I don’t feel the need to kill innocent animals who are just trying to survive.

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