The province must reinvest in the Bear Wise program and bring back the full spring bear hunt, says MPP candidate Andrew Olivier.
“The current government policy, which was to implement a two-year partial hunt, does little for either safety or our hunting tourism industry,” he says.
The Mike Harris government cancelled the spring bear hunt in 1999, impacting tourism in Northern Ontario and jobs that spin off from it. In 2012, the Ministry of Natural Resources cut the trap-and-relocate program Bear Wise.
Now Bear Wise is just a 24-hour hotline giving out advice — small comfort when a bear wanders into your backyard.
Local police forces were forced to take on the responsibility of dealing with nuisance bear calls, even though they don’t have the tools or training for the job, and human-bear interactions have increased. The province recently introduced a spring bear hunt pilot project, but only in certain municipalities. It is due to end this year.
“Dropping the spring bear hunt ban fully would do a lot to reinvigorate the northern economy,” Olivier says. “Prior to 1999, the spring bear hunt helped outfitters, and our hunting tourism industry was booming.
“The current government policy is a good start, but it’s not enough. The hunt is allowed only in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Thunder Bay and Timmins. Northern Ontario is huge, and there are plenty of areas not on that list that really should be.
“As your MPP, I will push for the return of both programs and will work together with the other Northern Ontario MPPs on my proposed Northern council to make this a reality.”