The Ontario government is taking steps to ensure a healthy and sustainable black bear population while supporting small businesses and jobs in northern and central Ontario.
Last week, John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, announced the start of government’s consultation on a proposal to move to a regular annual spring black bear hunting season.
In 2014, Ontario introduced a spring black bear hunting season pilot that ensured sustainable hunting of black bears. The spring black bear hunting season pilot has been reviewed and renewed each year since then. The province proposes to make the pilot a regular annual spring season subject to annual review.
“Ontario is home to a healthy bear population,” said Minister Yakabuski. “The province will continue to monitor black bear populations, harvest results and sustainability indicators to inform an annual review and ensure bear populations are managed sustainably.”
As part of this proposal, all protections for Ontario’s black bear population would remain in place. For example, it would remain illegal to harvest black bear cubs and females with cubs in the spring, a crime that carries a potential fine of up to $25,000 and up to one-year imprisonment.
In addition to this proposal, Ontario is also proposing to take action to support the long-term sustainability of the declining black bear population on the Bruce Peninsula reducing the bear hunting season in this area.
The spring black bear hunting pilot has been well received by northern communities and the tourism and hunting industries that support small businesses and jobs in northern and rural Ontario. The proposal to implement a regular season was recommended by the Big Game Management Advisory Committee (BGMAC). In Spring 2019, the government formed BGMAC to advise the province on how to improve big game management in Ontario.
“A regular, monitored spring bear hunting season would enable tourism outfitters and camp owners to better plan their operations for the entire year, while also allowing hunters to better plan their activities and support local businesses,” said Bill Walker, Member of Provincial Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. “I am pleased to see that our government will consult with Ontarians on this proposal and take action to ensure a healthy black bear population across the province with a particular emphasis on measures to support the population on the Bruce Peninsula.
The province is also proposing updates to black bear regulations:
Eliminating special black bear hunting opportunities for non-resident landowners and non-residents hunting with immediate relatives.
Requiring people guiding resident bear hunters for commercial purposes to obtain a “Licence to Provide Black Bear Hunting Services.”
The proposed changes are now available on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for public feedback until February 18, 2020.