Ontario to expand black bear hunting pilot project

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.

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.