Spring Bear Hunt
- 2003 - 2013
1937 – first spring bear hunt in Ontario
1942-1961 – black bears are considered vermin and killed under a bounty system
1961 – OFAH successfully lobbies to have black bears listed as a game animal. Bounty system is eliminated
1989 – bear management areas are introduced to distribute non-resident hunting pressure
1996 – the spring bear hunt contributes $43-million to local economies in northern Ontario
1999 – Premier Mike Harris cancels the spring bear hunt under pressure from animal rights groups in southern Ontario. The OFAH immediately launched legal action to re-instate the spring bear hunt
1999-2002 – The OFAH files multiple appeals in court to re-instate the spring bear hunt, but is officially rejected in 2002
2003 – A nuisance bear review committee is created to examine causes of increased nuisance bear activity across the province and to recommend solutions to the Ministry of Natural Resources
2004 – Nuisance bear review committee releases final report, which recommends the return of a spring bear hunt for socio-economic reasons. This recommendation was never realized.
2004-2013 – The OFAH continues to advocate for the return of a spring bear hunt in Ontario
2014 – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry trials a 2-year spring bear hunt pilot project in 8 WMU’s (wildlife management units) with high bear-human conflict. The OFAH encourages Ontario residents to participate, while advocating for a full return of the spring bear hunt.
2015 – The pilot project ends and the OFAH continues to work hard to expand the pilot project into more spring bear hunting opportunities throughout bear country in 2016 and beyond.
2015 – Province of Ontario announces plan for massive expansion of spring bear hunt pilot project. Plan would see the spring hunt occur in all 88 WMUs that currently have a fall hunt and it would be open to non-resident hunters. The five-year plan would begin in 2016.
2016 – MNRF officially expands the spring bear hunt pilot for a five year period (2016-2020) with restrictions on placement of bait.
2018 – MNRF releases results of a socioeconomic study of black bear hunting in Ontario
2019 – MNRF proposes to reduce the minimum distance requirement for placement of bait from rights of way for public vehicular traffic and marked and maintained recreational trails for black bear hunting from 200 metres to 30 metres. Decision still pending as of January 2020.
Where we Stand
- The OFAH supports a full reinstatement of the spring bear hunt as it was prior to 1999
- Proper bear management in Ontario includes hunting in both the spring and the fall
- Black bear management decisions must be made with the best available science
- The SBH (spring bear hunt) provided opportunities to harvest food, obtain valuable hides and share adventures with friends and family
- The SBH reduces bear densities before peak human/bear conflict season
- The SBH provided over $40-million in contribution to local economies in northern Ontario
- The SBH may reduce cannibalism of cubs and bears by hunters targeting adult males in spring
- The SBH is sex-selective as male bears typically leave the den earlier than female bears with cubs that are still in their dens during the SBH
- The BearWise program on its own, will not solve nuisance bear problems in Ontario
What the OFAH is doing:
Bear scares in suburbia – article
Stop wasting Ontario’s bears – article
Spring black bear hunts – article
“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.” full media release here
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) issued a news release Friday February 19, 2016 about the official expansion of the spring black bear pilot project for the next 5 years in Ontario.
What you can do:
- read the Benefits of the spring bear hunt in Ontario (written by OFAH Senior Wildlife Biologist, Mark Ryckman)
- share this information by email, social media, word of mouth
- stand with us to return the spring bear hunt to Ontario
- contact your local elected representatives to make this issue a top priority on their agendas
- participate in black bear hunting in Ontario (see page 83 of the Hunting Regulations
want more? check out our black bear – resources page (management documents, tools, science and information)