This bear hunt is set to return to northern Ontario this spring for the first time in 15 years, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The provincial government hopes to reduce the number of nuisance bears, who can be aggressive and sometimes look to humans for handouts.
City councils in communities near Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and North Bay will have a chance to vote on whether they want participate in the hunt—a list that one NDP member says should include more areas known to have problem bears.
“The government is saying we’re going to bring this back in some places but for the rest of you we’re going to do nothing,” John Vanthof, MPP for Timiskaming, told the Toronto Star.
In 1999, despite the presence of nuisance bears, the Mike Harris government cancelled the spring hunt because of reports that 270 cubs were starving to death each year after their parents were killed.
Today, in an effort to address this concern, Ontario has made it illegal to hunt both cubs and female bears with their cubs.
Critics, though, doubt this rule will be followed.
“While males are supposed to be the target, females are often killed instead,” said Sandy Donald, director of Ontario Wildlife Rescue. “At 200 yards, it’s tough to tell the difference between a male and female bear, and the result is that there are a lot of orphaned cubs that either starve without their mother or end up at wildlife centres.”
Ontario is dubbing the revived spring bear hunt a pilot project that will be re-assessed in two years.
It is scheduled to run from May 1 to June 15.