Spring and Fall bear hunt proposals – OFAH reaction

                                                           BEAR HUNT CHANGES

The deadline to comment on Bear Hunting proposals that the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) calls “long overdue” is February 18th.

The Province is suggesting a shorter spring bear hunt and bear trapping season on the Bruce Peninsula. It also hopes to scrap the Peninsula fall bear hunt. The plan was issued along with a proposal to continue the spring black bear season beyond 2020 for residents and non-residents in all Wildlife Management Units where there is a fall black bear season. The spring season would continue to run annually from May 1st to June 15th (except for WMUs 82A, 83 and 84).

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) studies show a decline in black bear numbers in our region. Ministry biologists recommend cutting back bear hunting on the peninsula to support what it calls “this genetically isolated population”. They suggest “human caused mortality be reduced to support sustainability.”

One retired MNRF research scientist who studied bear populations for 28 years says “if the government wants to get serious about the Bruce Peninsula population, it ought to cancel the season all together.”  Interviewed by Post Media he estimated black bear populations on the Peninsula at over three hundred with less than 100 in or around the national park. But he suggests numbers are dropping.

Province-wide there are an estimated 85-105 thousand black bears. Bear hunting of up to 10 per cent is considered sustainable.

The Ministry proposal would reduce the Bruce Peninsula spring bear hunt season to one week from May 1 to May 7 in WMU’s 82A, 83 and 84. It also wants to CLOSE THE FALL SEASON. The prosed shortened season would “continue to allow for a limited hunt, while reducing human-caused mortality, particularly on female bears. These changes would take affect this year.

 OFAH is being cautious on the Bruce Peninsula aspect of the proposals.

Federation biologist Keith Munro

 The OFAH will thoroughly review the proposed changes to black bear seasons on the Bruce Peninsula. We have already requested the needed information from the MNRF to conduct that review. We want to ensure the long-term conservation of the Bruce’s black bears while at the same time ensuring that sustainable hunting opportunities are not being left on the table,”  says Federation biologist, Keith Munro.


A black bear estimated to weigh 200 lbs crosses a city street Thursday, July 30, 2009 in Eau Claire, Wis. City police and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources worked to keep curious residents away from the bear, hoping it would leave town on its own accord. (AP Photo/Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Steve Kinderman)

Overall province-wide, most rules related to the spring season would be maintained. For example, the province wants to continue to prohibit the harvesting of cubs or females accompanied by cubs. Also, bear licenses and tags would be valid for both the spring and fall seasons. The completion of a mandatory hunter report would still be required. However, the MNRF is proposing to simplify reporting deadlines for resident bear hunters by having one reporting deadline in the fall.





OVERVIEW – the policy proposal includes:

  • Implementing the regular spring black bear season starting in 2021.
  • Shortening the Bruce Peninsula black bear season starting this year
  • Making minor regulation updates to improve fairness starting in 2021.

The proposal includes rule updates to improve fairness. The ministry hopes to eliminate special black bear hunting opportunities for non-resident landowners and non-resident immediate relatives of Ontario resident hunters. The ministry would also require individuals or businesses to have a ‘License to Provide Black Bear Hunting Services’ to provide guiding services to residents within a Bear Management Area.

OFAH which is the voice of thousands of anglers and hunters calls on the outdoors community to support these proposed changes. Biologist Munro said “some hunters will respond with principled conviction for restoring a sustainable hunt solely for the social, economic and biological benefits it provides. Others will speak to their own personal experience in a hunt that helps them secure wholesome food, valuable hides and an opportunity to share time in the outdoors with family and friends.” “It is these real stories from real people that will help us move past any lingering misconceptions and finally achieve a fully restored spring bear hunt across Ontario.”

On Manitoulin Island an OFAH Zone D director says “it is vital that hunters comment on this proposal and not let groups opposed to bear hunting be the only ones to respond. This is indeed good news for hunters, outfitters and for OFAH which has been working on getting a renewed spring hunt since the spring bear hunt was cancelled.”

The spring bear hunt was cancelled across Ontario in 1999. In 2014, the ministry implemented a two-year black bear spring season pilot from May 1 to June 15 in eight wildlife management units in Northern Ontario.

In 2016, the ministry extended that spring pilot for five years and expanded it to include all wildlife management units where there was an open season for black bear in the fall, which included the Bruce Peninsula.

But the spring season pilot will end on June 15 and the Ministry says “hunters and the tourism industry have expressed a desire for certainty on the future of the spring season.”

To comment on these proposed changes to the bear hunt on the peninsula and province-wide, go to the Environmental Registry of Ontario link below and provide your comments

The proposal is available at https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-1112

 and is open for comment until February 18, 2020.

With files from MNRF, OFAH, Post Media, Paterson Media, The Manitoulin Expositor