Thunder Bay

Ontario proposes full return of spring bear hunt

The province has announced it plans to bring back a regular annual spring season, subject to annual review.

A pilot spring hunt has been in place since 2014

The Ontario spring bear hunt was cancelled by the province in 1999. (Submitted by Donna Hodson)

The province has announced it plans to bring back a regular black bear spring hunting season, subject to annual review.

On Friday, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski announced the start of government's consultation on the proposal.

"Ontario is home to a healthy bear population," said 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."

The bear hunt was cancelled by the province in 1999. 

In 2014, Ontario re-introduced a spring black bear hunting season, and the pilot has continued each year since then.

As part of this latest proposal, all protections for Ontario's black bear population would remain in place. 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, Ontario is also proposing to take action to support the long-term sustainability of the declining black bear population on the Bruce Peninsula by reducing the bear hunting season in this area.

The government said the proposal was recommended by the Big Game Management Advisory Committee (BGMAC).

Last spring, the government formed the BGMAC to advise the province on how to improve big game management in Ontario.

The province is also proposing to eliminate bear hunting opportunities for non-resident landowners and non-residents hunting with immediate relatives.

The proposal would also require 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 Feb. 18.

now