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Northern Ontario towns clamour to expand spring bear hunt

Northern Ontario cities and towns have overwhelmingly said yes to the return of the spring bear hunt.
Bear hunt areas for Ontario's proposed spring bear hunt pilot program. (MNR)

Northern Ontario cities and towns have overwhelmingly said yes to the return of the spring bear hunt.

Nearly 50 municipal councils have passed motions saying they wish to be included in the pilot project, announced in November.

But many also called on the province to expand the hunt to cover more of northern Ontario and to allow hunters from outside the province to get licenses as well.

But Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said, unlike other hunting seasons, this is not about tourism.

"The issue that we focused on in proposing the pilot was public safety, not profit,” he said.

Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti. (Supplied)

Orazietti added he's not surprised by the support for the new spring bear hunt.

The bear hunt will only be allowed in certain areas this spring, mostly around the region's five major cities.

But he said that — and to whom the bear hunt is available — could change after this first season.

"We're calling it a pilot for simply that reason. We need to know whether or not this will work."

Kapuskasing council called for more of the town to be included. Currently only a small corner of the municipality will be open to hunters.

But Mayor Al Spacek added he's happy that, 15 years after the spring hunt was cancelled, Queen's Park seems to be listening to the north.

"Any step is a good one,” he said. “I think it's just one that warrants more conversation with the government about expanding the program."

As for whether this mean fewer bears wandering into Kapuskasing, Spacek says he'll reserve comment on that until after the hunt ends in June.

The specifics of the province's plan to bring back the spring bear hunt will soon be posted on the Environmental Registry website for public comment.

The first shot of the season is expected in May.

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