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Speak out for Ontario's bears!

 

Until Monday November 30th, you can submit your comments in opposition to the proposed reintroduction and expansion of the spring bear hunt HERE. Speak out with science to stop the spring bear hunt and end the cruel and unsportsmanlike baiting of bears once and for all. 

 

1999, In the spring bear hunt was finally cancelled, saving the lives of thousands of hungry bears from being shot over bait piles after emerging from a winter without food.  The hunt was cancelled to protect bear cubs from being orphaned when their mothers were accidentally and /or illegally killed. 

In 2013, the spring bear hunt was reintroduced as an experiment ostensibly to reduce human-bear conflict.  However, the government’s own science shows that human-bear conflict has nothing to do with the spring hunt. In reality, the number of nuisance bears increases when wild food crops - like berries and nuts – are unusually bad.

Following repeated budget cuts, the provincial Bear Wise program is no longer able to effectively engage northern communities to prevent conflict with bears in times of wild food shortages.  Now the government has proposed an expansion and extension of the experimental Spring Bear Hunt for another 5 years in most of Ontario, with plans to allow trophy hunters from outside Ontario.

 

Remember that comments have the most impact when they are personalized - you can use the information below to write your submission. 

 

Why is commenting so important?

While the government has published this spring hunt expansion as a 5-year experiment, we have every reason to believe that this will become a permanent hunting season because:

1. The initial 2-year limited spring bear hunt experiment was used to legitimize the hunt in the face of controversy based on science. The results from that experiment were never released.

2. The government initiated the spring hunt under fall pretenses of reducing the number of nuisance bears even though their own science shows these issues are not linked. 

Want to do more?  Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and help educate your community about threats to bears.  Whether you live in bear country or not, your opinion matters.  You can use the information we have accumulated from the government’s own scientists and advisors.

 

Arguments against the reinstatement of the spring bear hunt:

  • Hunting bears in the spring does not reduce human-bear conflict.  The government should heed the results of their own science and appointed committees instead of wasting the experts’ time and taxpayers’ money.
  • Bear cubs are orphaned when females are killed.  It is too difficult for hunters to tell the difference between male and female bears, and females leave their cubs in nearby trees while they forage. Inevitably, female bears are killed in the spring bear hunt.
  • Orphaning cubs threatens the black bear population, which has one of the lowest reproductive rates of all species.  70% of orphaned cubs die before they reach one year of age. Female black bears do not generally start giving bear until they are 6 years old. Appeasing hunters and other special interest groups should not be the primary goal of wildlife management policy.
  • Complaints do not reflect the number of nuisance bears: the number of bears that were in conflict with humans and trapped did not increase following the cancellation of the spring bear hunt in 1999.  The number of complaints about nuisance bears rose after the spring bear hunt was originally cancelled in 1999, but only because of controversy and increased reporting effort.

 

Arguments against bear baiting:

  • Baiting bears can exacerbate the number of nuisance bears by teaching them that they are rewarded by following attractants laid out by people. Human attractants are a known cause of nuisance bear activity in populated areas. Bear baiting is begun well in advance of the legal hunt, and not every bear that uses the bait is killed. Since it is not legal to hunt female bears, and female bears teach their young how to forage, females that are not accidentally killed after using bait sites teach their young to take advantage of bait and other human food.
  • Females with cubs are more susceptible to being attracted by bait because they emerge from the den in the worst body condition relative to other bears.
  • It can be impossible to identify and therefore avoid killing females around bait piles because mother bears stow their vulnerable cubs in trees while they forage.
  • Baiting bears is cruel and goes against the notion of “fair chase” – there is nothing ethical or culturally significant about luring bears and shooting them from blinds as they consume unnatural food. 

 

General Recommendations:

  • Immediate closure of the experimental spring bear hunt and immediate ban on all bear baiting.
  • Proper consideration of science when making management decisions, instead of politically based motives.

 

Recommendations to reduce human-bear conflict:

  • Prohibit the intentional feeding of black bears in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
  • Long-term reinvestment in the Bear Wise program, with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry staff training and community education and engagement:

- Workshops with northern municipalities to communicate science about preventing nuisance bear behaviour during times of wild food shortages, including removing attractants, and use of by-laws to control waste removal, storage of pet food outside, wildlife feeding and safe composting techniques.

- Provide literature about bear behaviour for wider distribution within local communities.

- Collaborative training between MNRF and police (both local and from the Ontario Provincial Police) to teach them to:

- Respond and track bear-related complaints.                    

- Accurately identify non-risk vs. nuisance situations.

- Effectively use non-lethal approaches.

The onus should NEVER be on police to deal with bears, since they are not trained to understand wildlife behaviour and use non-lethal strategies  

 

Speak out with science to stop the spring bear hunt - submit your comments now!