Bear Wise program has proven to be long on words, short on results
For years, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (O.F.A.H.) has warned
the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) that the cancellation of the spring bear hunt and its replacement with the provincial Bear Wise Program would negatively impact public safety.
Instead of managing Ontario’s bears for optimal sustainable populations as it is mandated to do the province has instead opted to try to manage people, with dismal, and sometimes near fatal results.
“To minimize the risks to people and maximize the benefits of this resource for society,
the Ontario government needs to reinstate the spring bear hunt,” said Terry Quinney, O.F.A.H. Provincial Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services.
“It was a time-tested, successful bear management tool that also provided tens of millions of dollars
in economic benefits before it was terminated, taking with it much-needed employment, particularly in northern and central Ontario.”
Already this season, police have killed bears in London and Peterborough that presented a threat to people.
In Severn Township, the search continues for the bear that inflicted extensive wounds on a Waubaushene man last week in an apparently unprovoked attack.
In 1999, the province promptly and without scientific reason, cancelled the spring bear hunt, resulting in a ten-fold increase in occurrences of human-bear conflict.
A fact backed by the MNR’s own 2008 report. The O.F.A.H. believes that the cancellation of the spring bear hunt has undone many years of improved black bear management, and has instead, caused an increase in human-bear conflicts,
resulting in more sows and cubs shot and wasted in the protection of property.
MNR statistics reveal that human bear occurrences rose to 12,645 in 2007/2008, up from an average of 1,000 prior to 1999.
“We are convinced that human-bear conflicts can be minimized, by managing bear populations using a variety of tools, including area-specific quotas and an early season hunt,” added Quinney.
“Reinstating a well-managed spring hunt would provide positive benefits for all concerned – our black bear populations, the economies of northern and central Ontario, and the safety of the general public.”
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 660 member clubs,
the O.F.A.H. is the largest nonprofit, charitable, fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in Ontario,
and the voice of anglers and hunters.
For more information, visit www.ofah.org.