Minister won’t commit to Spring Bear Hunt expansion just yet

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Pictured: John Fitchett, President OFMF, Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources, Kayle Cachagee, Staff sargent, MNR and Robin Horwath, GM OFMF
Minister Mauro will wait and see about the bear hunt expansion
Minister Mauro will wait and see about the bear hunt expansion

Whether the Spring Bear Hunt is reinstated should be known sooner than later said Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources for Ontario told Saultonline.com on his visit to Sault Ste. Marie this week.

First introduced on a limited basis in 2014 in an effort to address concerns from northern Ontario municipalities regarding nuisance bears in their communities, the pilot has been extended with some fairly significant changes.

Additionally, the spring bear hunt expansion will include opportunities for non-resident hunters to travel to Ontario for the hunt, which will provide an increase in economic opportunities in northern Ontario and for the tourism industry in general, the Ministry said in a release earlier this year.

Mauro, who was in the Sault to attend the Northern Ontario Tourism Organization summit made comment on the bear hunt while meeting with local stakeholders at the Ontario Fur Managers Federation office.

“we are half way through the proposal right now” Mauro said,   The Provincial government is asking the public to comment on the spring bear hunt expansion proposal through the Environmental registry. This is the only opportunity to provide comments on the proposal.

“the call for comments on the proposal closes November 30, and once it closes we will consider the comments and decide our next steps”

Under the extended pilot, it will remain illegal to harvest cubs and female bears accompanied by cubs. In most units, hunters will only be allowed to harvest one bear per calendar year, though second game seals will remain available in certain areas.

"fur trapping is a huge business and industry in Ontario" John Fitchett said.
“fur trapping is a huge business and industry in Ontario” John Fitchett said.

General Manager of the local branch for the OFMF, Robin Horwath was pleased the minister made a stopover to talk about issues as was OFMF President, John Fitchett, ” this is only the third time since 1996 that we’ve had the Minister visit us,we’ve had some really good dealing with Minister Mauro and proud that he took the time to visit us in our own shop”

The Federation is the voice for over 7,000 fur trappers and oversees the work the ministry used to do such as licensing , gathering data, communications  and getting the regulations out to the trappers. “fur tapping is a multi-million dollar business in Ontario” Fitchett said.

Trappers mainly focus on beaver, wolves, coyotes and fox and Fitchett the market for such furs is on the upswing.

Meanwhile, a final decision on expanding the Spring Bear Hunt should be known early in the new year. The Spring Bear Hunt was first introduced in Ontario in 1937 and from 1942 to 1960, black bears are considered vermin and killed under a bounty system.

The Government reports that the spring bear hunt contributes $43-million to local economies in northern Ontario.