ontario spring bear hunt
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Spring Bear Hunt causes death by starvation for hundreds of cubs and should be stopped

Toronto — March 4, 2020, The Spring Bear Hunt in Ontario causes horrible pain, suffering and certain death by starvation for bear cubs whose mothers are lured to baiting sites and killed. For these and other reasons, the proposed reintroduction of the annual Spring Bear Hunt must be stopped, said Sandy Donald, director of OntarioSpringBearHunt.ca.

The annual Spring Bear Hunt was canceled by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources in 1999 to stop the devastation on the cub population. Estimates indicate that at least 200 to 300 cubs were orphaned that year alone.

Now the Ministry (MNR) is seeking to permanently re-introduce the Spring Bear Hunt after an initial pilot program in 2014 and an expanded version in 2016. Results from the two pilot projects have not been released to the public. The hunt, when resumed, will run from May 1 to June 15 across the province.

One of the most insidious aspects of the hunt is the way in which female bears are baited and killed. Baiting involves placing human food at shooting sites to entice bears who are coming out of winter hibernation, and who are very hungry and vulnerable. Hunters sit behind blinds and shoot the hungry bears. Females looking for food often leave their cubs in trees or other safe areas. Once female bears are killed, their cubs often succumb to death by starvation.

While killing female bears is prohibited, the law is difficult to enforce, and it can be difficult to distinguish between male and female bears from 50 to 100 yards away.

“The official reason for introducing the pilot project in 2014, was to protect community safety. But according to the MNR’s own statistics, there is no evidence the Spring Bear Hunt will reduce the number of problem or nuisance bears in communities,” said Donald.

Public safety concerns have been falsely advanced by a small vocal group of special interests in the province. Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Other measures exist to manage the co-exitance of bears and humans. The Ministry of Natural resources runs one of the best and most comprehensive programs—Bear Wise—to deal with nuisance bears. Where it has been properly implemented it has been highly successful.

The Spring Bear Hunt should be stopped. There is no evidence it reduces problem bears; shooting bears when they have dependent cubs is unethical; education is the only way to reduce negative interactions with bears, said Donald.

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