Ontario is expanding the spring bear hunting pilot to gather further information to assess concerns voiced by northern communities about human-bear conflicts, and to support economic growth and tourism in the north. The spring bear hunt pilot expansion will include:
- Extending the pilot by an additional five years, through 2020
- All 88 wildlife management units that currently have a fall bear hunt
- Non-resident hunters.
Under the expanded pilot, it will still be illegal to hunt bear cubs and females with cubs. Anyone convicted of this offence could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to one year imprisonment. In most cases, each licensed hunter will only be allowed to hunt one bear in each calendar year. Baiting of bears during all bear hunting seasons will be regulated to help address public safety concerns, including:
- Bait must not be placed within 500 metres of a residence unless written permission is obtained from the residence’s owner
- Bait must not be placed within 500 metres of a public building
- Bait must not be placed within 200 metres of a right of way for public vehicle traffic or a marked public recreational trail.
- Ontario is home to a healthy and sustainable black bear population with up to 105,000 black bears living in the province.
- The spring bear hunt pilot will take place from May 1 through June 15, starting in 2016 and ending in 2020.
- Currently across Canada, each province and territory with black bears has a spring and fall bear hunt except Nova Scotia, which only has a fall hunt.
- For 2014 and 2015, Ontario held a two-year bear management pilot program in eight wildlife management units, all of which reported high levels of human-bear conflict. The hunt was open to Ontario residents from May 1 to June 15. Communities in and around these units include Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay.