Ontario is expanding the spring bear hunting pilot to gather further information to assess concerns voiced by northern communities about human-bear conflicts, and to support economic growth and tourism in the north.
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The spring bear hunt pilot expansion will include:
- Extending the pilot by an additional five years, through 2020
- All 88 wildlife management units that currently have a fall bear hunt
- Non-resident hunters.
Under the expanded pilot, it will still be illegal to hunt bear cubs and females with cubs. Anyone convicted of this offence could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to one year imprisonment. In most cases, each licensed hunter will only be allowed to hunt one bear in each calendar year.
” While science shows one of the biggest influences on the number of human-bear encounters is the availability of natural food sources, we also understand that bear-related public concerns are very real for people living in northern and central Ontario and we are committed to assisting those communities to deal with this problem.”
– Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Baiting of bears during all bear hunting seasons will be regulated to help address public safety concerns, including:
- Bait must not be placed within 500 metres of a residence unless written permission is obtained from the residence’s owner
- Bait must not be placed within 500 metres of a public building
- Bait must not be placed within 200 metres of a right of way for public vehicle traffic or a marked public recreational trail.
- Ontario is home to a healthy and sustainable black bear population with up to 105,000 black bears living in the province.
- The spring bear hunt pilot will take place from May 1 through June 15, starting in 2016 and ending in 2020.
- Currently across Canada, each province and territory with black bears has a spring and fall bear hunt except Nova Scotia, which only has a fall hunt.
- For 2014 and 2015, Ontario held a two-year bear management pilot program in eight wildlife management units, all of which reported high levels of human-bear conflict. The hunt was open to Ontario residents from May 1 to June 15. Communities in and around these units include Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.