Together, we are Ontario's voice for nature.

Unfair chase: Your voice urgently needed to stop the spring bear hunt!

The Ontario government is proposing to extend the two-year spring bear hunt pilot for another five years, to open it up to non-residents, and to expand it into all areas where fall bear hunting is currently allowed (EBR Registry Number: 012-5485). The excuse? Public safety. The reality? Study after study shows that shooting more bears does not reduce human-bear conflicts.

We need your voice! The time to comment is running out (deadline November 30) and the pro-spring hunt lobby is actively rallying its supporters to champion the hunt. Together we can show the government that most Ontarians oppose the spring hunt.

Ontario’s spring bear hunt was originally cancelled in 1999. Many felt that the spring hunt was not sporting or fair chase as hungry bears came out of hibernation and were attracted to bait stations where they were shot by hunters waiting on platforms – like fish in a barrel. For the next 15 years, black bear hunting was limited to the fall. But in 2014 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) decided to reinstate a limited spring hunt as a pilot.

That very same year –  2014  –  a team of MNRF scientists confirmed the ineffectiveness of a spring hunt in reducing human-bear conflicts. It found that conflicts were “not correlated with prior harvests, providing no evidence that larger harvests reduced subsequent HBC [human-bear conflict].” (Obbard, M.E. et al. 2014)

There is quite simply no evidence to support the expansion or extension of the hunt from a human safety perspective. We agree with the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario who recommends that the government “listen to informed experts, review relevant research and implement human-bear conflict solutions that are actually supported by evidence, science and experience” (p. 138).

If the government is genuine in its desire to reduce human-bear conflicts, it should invest in educational initiatives and work with municipalities to effectively implement the Bear Wise program (a program that is the envy of many provinces and states across North America). This would involve, for example, educating people about ways to avoid or deal with bear encounters (e.g., by leashing their dogs and properly storing food and garbage), encouraging municipalities to pass and enforce stricter garbage by-laws, and training police in bear management and the use of tranquilizer guns.

Modifying human behaviour is the key to successfully managing human-bear conflicts, not a spring hunt. Please join Ontario Nature in opposing the unjustifiable extension and expansion of the spring bear hunt.

Please send in comments by the November 30 deadline. Be sure to reference Environmental Registry #012-5485.

Comments can be submitted online here:

IMPORTANT: You can use and adapt the comments below. If you add your personal touch, the government will give your submission greater consideration.

Sample comments:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re. Environmental Registry #012-5485

I strongly oppose Ontario’s proposal to expand and extend the spring bear hunt. Science has consistently shown that hunting does not reduce the number of human-bear conflicts. The government should base its policies on sound science and evidence. In this case, both indicate that one of the best ways to prevent human-bear conflicts is through public education and outreach about proper handling of food and waste.


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