THUNDER BAY, ON ----- October 31, 2015 ---- The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro made a simultaneous announcement in Thunder Bay while the The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the announcement locally Friday at the OFAH/Mario Cortellucci Hunting & Fishing Heritage Centre.
First introduced on a limited basis in 2014 in an effort to address concerns from northern Ontario municipalities regarding nuisance bears in their communities, the pilot has been extended with some fairly significant changes.
The most substantial change involves the expansion of the hunt to all 88 Wildlife Management Units across Ontario that currently have a fall bear hunt.
"The OFAH congratulates the provincial government for recognizing that spring bear hunting is a valuable and sustainable wildlife management tool that offers many ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural benefits throughout the entire province," says Angelo Lombardo, OFAH Executive Director.
Additionally, the spring bear hunt expansion will include opportunities for non-resident hunters to travel to Ontario for the hunt, which will provide an increase in economic opportunities in northern Ontario and for the tourism industry in general.
Under the extended pilot, it will remain illegal to harvest cubs and female bears accompanied by cubs. In most units, hunters will only be allowed to harvest one bear per calendar year, though second game seals will remain available in certain areas.
The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, makes an announcement at the OFAH | Mario Cortellucci Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre about the spring bear hunt pilot program.
"During the last 17 years, no one has done more to bring back the spring bear hunt than the OFAH. The OFAH fought hard to prevent the cancellation of the spring bear hunt, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. At the end of a three year court battle, we were the only group left defending the rights of black bear hunters. We never stopped believing that the spring bear hunt was the right thing for Ontario, and we are happy that our hard work has paid off," Lombardo adds.
"Thank you to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters who have been relentless in pushing this forward to get where we are today," Minister Leal said at today’s announcement.
He also added: "It is a great day for your organization. You are great stewards for fishing and hunting heritage in the province of Ontario."
While we applaud the announcement made today, we will continue to work with the MNRF to ensure that any new changes will not unnecessarily restrict bear hunters.
For more information on the benefits of the spring bear hunt in Ontario, download our fact sheet and other resources online at www.ofah.org/springbearhunt. With more than 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters and 725 member clubs, the OFAH is the largest non-profit fish and wildlife conservation-based organization in Ontario