Bear Cubs Pay the Price for Short Sighted Spring Bear Hunts
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Barry Kent MacKay, BornFreeUSA.org
January 2020

The rationale is made that more revenue will flow into Ontario as rich American, European, and Asian hunters will be allowed to kill our bears in both spring and fall. What chance does a baby bear have when its starvation generates profits?

Bear cub
Casey Neal [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

On January 15, 1999, after massive effort by my colleagues and me, the then Conservative government of Ontario announced an end to the hunting of black bears in the province, in the spring, although in some regions hunting could occur as early as late summer. There was no decrease in the number of bears (out of a population size not accurately known) that could be hunted, but the end to the spring hunt was welcomed because bear hunters often failed to detect the differences between mother bears (who where protected) with dependent cubs, and legally hunted male or non-maternal female bears, leaving dependent cubs to die in the bush. John Snobelen made the decision “...to move to end the spring bear hunt because [our government] will not tolerate cubs being orphaned by hunters mistakenly shooting mother bears in the spring.”

The government changed hands in 2013, with Kathleen Wynne leading the Liberal Party to victory. She admitted to seeking votes in rural central and northern Ontario by instating a “test” partial return (involving resident Ontarians only) to the spring bear hunt, even though there was a plethora of evidence from the government’s own scientists that hunting bears in the spring inevitably left cubs to die of thirst, exposure, starvation, or predation, as they were dependent upon their mothers who were too often accidentally shot by hunters.

The Liberals wore out their welcome and, in 2018, while most Ontario voters chose a different party to vote for, the Conservatives, under the leadership of Doug Ford, wound up with more votes than any one party in a multi-party system and thus formed a four-year majority government in the last provincial election. Now Ford has just announced that the spring bear hunt will not only continue, but will return to its pre-1999 level, even though, according to its own research, published in 1996, it means that 70% of cubs orphaned during spring seasons died before their first birthday in the three wildlife management units studied. Yes, it will still be illegal to kill mother bears in the spring, but as we know from past experience, some will be shot, especially since now hunters from regions lacking bears, who are thus unfamiliar with them, will be loose in the woods with their deadly weapons. Ontario residents are able to comment on this measure.

Every Conservation Officer with whom I’ve had the discussion legitimately complains about lack of funds and resources with which to do the job (which, to be sure, many do very well indeed). But, Ford won’t say how he’ll fund the extra enforcement that will be required. Bear advocates recognize that they are defeated from the outset as the Ford government shows little interest in facts or compassion. Upon defeat, Wynne resigned as leader of the Liberals but, even without a leader, they currently are higher in the polls (were an election to be called today) than Ford and his party, and he has nearly three more years to go. Ford’s ineptitude has engendered so much disquiet, pain, and disruption that there is little room left in the media to discuss his attacks on wildlife.

The rationale is made that more revenue will flow into Ontario as rich American, European, and Asian hunters will be allowed to kill our bears in both spring and fall. What chance does a baby bear have when its starvation generates profits? Very little, indeed.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild,
Barry 


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