Spring Bear Hunt Returns
A generation of hunters will soon experience something they’ve never had the opportunity to do in Ontario.
The Spring Bear Hunt is back.
The Province of Ontario announced the official expansion of the Spring Bear Hunt pilot project on Feb. 19, 2016. The expansion provides hunting opportunities in 88 Wildlife Management Units and includes the participation of non-resident hunters effective May 1.
This return of a lost opportunity serves as a reminder that things that are easily lost are not always easily returned.
The provincial government, amid pressure and propaganda from animal rights activists, originally canceled the Spring Bear Hunt in 1999. A three-year court battle ensued and the OFAH was the only group left defending the rights of black bear hunters across Ontario.
For 17 years the fight continued to have the hunt reinstated and no one worked harder in that timeframe to bring back the Spring Bear Hunt than the OFAH. Years of advocacy on this file resulted in the introduction of a pilot project two years ago and the five-year expansion of the pilot, which was initially announced in the fall of 2015 and finalized last week.
While the expansion of the Spring Bear Hunt pilot project is a huge step in the right direction, the OFAH will always push for sustainable bear management to include a spring hunt.
“We’re pleased that Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro and the provincial government have recognized the value of a Spring Bear Hunt in Ontario by expanding the pilot project for another five years,” says OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. “The OFAH remains committed to ensuring that Ontario always has spring bear hunting.”
Baiting regulations announced as part of the expansion will apply to both the spring and fall seasons and will be set by distance. Bait cannot be placed within 500 metres of a residence unless written permission from the owner is obtained, while bait cannot be placed within 500 metres of a public building. Additionally, bait cannot be placed within 200 metres of a right of way for public vehicle traffic or a marked recreational trail.
“We will monitor the impact of those restrictions to ensure that they are having the desired effect without unnecessarily limiting bear hunting opportunities,” says OFAH Senior Wildlife Biologist Mark Ryckman. “We will also do our part to educate and inform hunters on these regulations.”
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is Ontario’s largest, non-profit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization, representing 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters and 725 member clubs. For more information visit www.ofah.org/springbearhunt and follow us on Facebook (ofah.org/facebook) and Twitter (@ofah).