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Spring bear hunters armed with online hunting help

It's the second week of the re-launched spring bear hunt — and technology is helping hunters make sure they follow the rules.
The spring bear hunt is being welcomed by many hunters, who say something needs to be done to cut down on the number of human and bear interactions in the north. Many have hit the internet to educate themselves about what they're allowed to hunt. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

It's the second week of the re-launched spring bear hunt — and technology is helping hunters make sure they follow the rules.

For Markstay hunter Ray Smith, his computer is as important as a gun when it comes to hunting. The computer is replete with pictures from a trail camera he has set up in the woods, near a bait station where he plans to hunt.

"This is one of my favourite picks,” he said, pointing to his screen. “It's a sow with her cubs and they’re climbing all over the bait."

With the pictures, he recognizes the bears he'll be hunting — and then he knows if it's male or a female with cubs.

Smith added that hunters often turn to websites to familiarize themselves with bears and the rules of this new spring hunt.

“There's [websites like] Ontario Trophy Bucks, Hunt Ontario, the Hunting Lodge, Hunting Confessions, [and] all these internet forums,” he said. “And we have MNR biologists on these forums.”

Although he's confident hunters wouldn't shoot a sow with cubs, Smith said there will always be people who don't follow the rules. But he added that shouldn't keep the spring bear hunt from happening.

Animals rights groups are outraged over the hunt saying sows with cubs will be shot, and the cubs left to starve.

But hunters like Smith refute those claims, since it is illegal to shoot a sow with cubs. Educating hunters about what is allowed is key, he noted.

“The education for everybody has been 100 times what it was, maybe 20 years [ago],” he said. “[Now] people can learn off one another on the internet.”

The pilot spring hunt runs until June 15. 

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