Ontario Liberals are committed to Northern Ontario and working with Northerners to properly address their regional needs, announced David Orazietti, Liberal candidate.
“Northern Ontario has unique challenges and the public safety of residents in our communities should not be compromised by a Toronto-based special interest group,” said Orazietti. “Unlike Animal Alliance, we listened to Northerners and have developed a responsive and appropriate plan to deal with human-bear conflict, which poses a very real risk to public safety.”
Following consultation with Northern municipalities, Ontario Liberals implemented a bear management pilot program to enhance public safety and reduce problem bear issues in the North. This two-year bear management pilot program includes a limited early bear hunting season in and around communities that have reported high levels of problem bear activity, including Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay. In each of these areas, city councils and communities have demonstrated support for the pilot by passing a resolution indicating their support to opt into the program. In fact, nearly 50 communities in Northern Ontario support the early bear hunting season.
Prior to introducing the pilot, the government invested $35 million on a resident education and bear relocation program to reduce human-bear conflict. Despite investing more than any other jurisdiction in North America to reduce human-bear conflict, further action needed to be taken.
“Northerners agree that the previous program needed to be changed to strengthen public safety,” said Orazietti. “While the PC’s irresponsibly cancelled the spring bear hunt, which exists in nearly every other province in Canada, and the NDP have been silent on the issue, we are taking action to protect Northerners.”
Ontario is home to a healthy and sustainable bear population of approximately 105,000 black bears and Ontario Liberals are committed to ensuring that this continues. Under the pilot, harvesting bear cubs or female bears with cubs is illegal, and there are strict rules and fines in place for individuals who violate the parameters of the program. The success of this pilot program will be monitored on an ongoing basis.