Ontario is proposing to extend the spring bear hunt by an additional five years in order to gather more information, support economic growth and tourism in the north, and further address concerns from northern communities about nuisance bears, announced David Orazietti, MPP.
“Our government heard from Northern communities, including Sault Ste. Marie, about concerns regarding human-bear encounters,” said Orazietti. “We are moving ahead with an expanded spring bear hunt in order to gain further information on its effectiveness and to continue supporting economic development and tourism opportunities in the North while maintaining a sustainable bear population.”
The extended and expanded spring bear hunt would include all 88 Wildlife Management Units that currently have a fall bear hunt, and would be open to both resident and non-resident hunters.
“Dealing with situations involving nuisance bears is a challenge to our police service and in some circumstances creates a public safety issue in our community. This proposed expansion of the spring bear hunt provides Northern communities, like Sault Ste. Marie, with another tool when it comes to safe and effective management of dangerous wildlife.” said Robert Keetch, Chief of Police, Sault Ste. Marie Police Services
Under the expanded proposal, it would remain illegal to hunt bear cubs or female bears with cubs. Anyone convicted of this offence could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to one year imprisonment. In most cases, each licensed hunter would only be allowed to hunt one bear in each calendar year. Additionally, the baiting of bears would be regulated to help address possible public safety concerns.
If passed, the province would monitor and evaluate the success of this expanded project on an ongoing basis. Ontario will continue to work with municipalities on ways to limit human-bear interactions.
“Human-bear interactions are a concern in northern communities, including here in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s important to help ensure our children remain safe in our community, whether they are at home or in the school yard.” said John Stadnyk, Director of Education, Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board
“It may be difficult for some to understand that for our students and school staff, bear sightings and activating safety procedures for dealing with bears on school properties have been frequent occurrences across our large district. This proposed expansion will help protect residents, including school children, and will allow them to enjoy the outdoors with a reduced likelihood of encountering a nuisance bear. This is a great step forward for community and schoolyard safety.” said Lucia Reece, Director of Education, Algoma District School Board
Supporting economic growth and tourism in the north is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
· 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.
· In 2014 and 2015, Ontario held a two-year bear management pilot program in eight wildlife management units, all of which reported high levels of nuisance bear activities. The hunt was open to Ontario residents from May 1 to June 15. Communities in and around these units include Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.
· The proposed spring bear hunt expansion is available for public comment on Ontario’s Environmental Registry.