Here’s Why a Bear Hunt is a Crappy Solution to Ontario’s Bear Problem

Two animal advocacy groups are taking the government to court in an attempt to stop the return of Ontario’s cruel and pointless spring bear hunt, which is set to start on May 1.

In a move that some believe has more to do with politics than bear management, the government announced earlier this month that it would be bringing the spring hunt back with a pilot program that is set to run for six weeks in eight wildlife areas. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of nuisance bears and conflicts with people, but animal advocates are arguing that the only thing it will accomplish is orphaning bear cubs who will die a slow death alone without their mothers.

Following heavy campaigning by animal advocates, the spring hunt was previously cancelled in 1999 when the then-natural resources minister stated that ending it was the only acceptable way to ensure cubs would not being orphaned.

Cubs are only a few weeks old when they leave their dens in the spring and are completely dependent on their mothers for survival. The Animal Alliance of Canada and Zoocheck Canada are now challenging the hunt in court, arguing that the suffering of orphaned bear cubs will be inevitable, which violates animal cruelty laws under the current Criminal Code.

Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck Canada stated:

“The spring bear hunt is cruel. Bears come out of hibernation and are extremely hungry because they have not eaten all winter. They are attracted to garbage food (fryer oil, rotten meat, and stale donuts) set out in bait piles by hunters who want an assured kill. One third of these feeding bears are female, many with tiny cubs. Often the female bears hide the cubs before approaching the bait site or kill zone. Despite being illegal for hunters to kill female bears with cubs, inevitably it happens and orphaned cubs are left to starve to death.”

Despite conflicting opinions from scientists about the effectiveness of the spring hunt, the fact that there is no effective way to ensure mother bears aren’t killed, and the unethical practices of baiting and hunting with dogs, the government is insisting that it is the only way to reduce conflicts.

According to the Nuisance Bear Review Committee, there was no connection between the cancellation of the spring bear hunt and increases in nuisance activity. What did affect the number of bear incidents was the amount of natural food they had available. The committee further stated that the “root cause of nuisance activity by black bears is attraction to sources of human food or waste that is easily accessible by bears.”

That alone should make it clear that a spring hunt is unnecessary and people can take actions on their own to reduce the likelihood of trouble and ensure bears don’t become habituated to us.

While the case is set to be heard in court on April 29, animal advocates are still urging the government to cancel the hunt and recommit to the Bear Wise program, which has reduced conflicts where it has been properly implemented through education and prevention programs.


Please sign and share the petition urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to stop the spring bear hunt.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

I vote to drown Gerald L. in tar sands oil by dumping it into his living room until he chokes. The personal criminal greed and insanity of many Canadians boggles the mind. Leading the charge on destroying Canada's environment and beyond that, threatening the entire world's environment is that criminal psychopath Harper, who weak spined Canadians have allowed to wreak havoc for two terms. Gerald L how about we throw you naked into the Canadian bloodbath of seal pups and you can volunteer to be first to be clubbed. Then you can experience firsthand the "compromise" you want to make for selfish greed.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

I am way behind on my emails so I did not get this one signed but I agree that it needs to stop.

Mandy H.
Mandy H3 years ago

Really? I don't understand why they continue with stupid kill campaigns like this even though there's evidence that they don't work.

Gerald L.
Gerald L3 years ago

contd; Alberta's Oil Sand's, guess what Rosemary people have to butter their bread, oh shit an animal based product! I am not likely to be converted to your belief in animal sentience. Irregardless I do not know what sector of the economy, or whether you even worked, or if you have a working spouse, BUT you are using the internet, powered by electricity, produced by what. The computer has components which were mined or produced from Oil.

Modern life is a bitch full of compromises! If you don't want us to use wool because of exploiting sheep, if rayon is the alternative, we need Pulp Mills & chemicals, logs from the forest etc. I would think sheep eating grass is a lot more sustainable, and humans wearing the sheepskin and eating the meat makes more sense than either switching to a poly-fiber which needs Oil feedstocks, pipelines, refineries etc.

I often wonder if militant vegans are a front for heavy industry. Because there is not much in their web of subsistence that has a natural self sustaining, re-productable from sunshine producing grass & vegetation to fiber for clothing, dairy products for nourishment, hides for wearing, leather for footwear, meat for eating, and most precious of all manure for nourishing the fields instead of chemically synthesized fertilizer. Yes I cannot forget plant based, cotton, hemp, jute etc. often farmed by exploiting oxen, of which the alternative would be mechanized farm equipment, made from...

The stupidity of homo sapi

Gerald L.
Gerald L3 years ago

@ Rosemary L; Northern Ontario was settled to harvest trees for sawlogs, for housing, plus produce paper & pulp bales to be converted into value added products; eg. disposable baby diapers, personal care products (of which I will let you figure out)!

So for people to read a daily newspaper, wipe their derrier, etc. most of which was shipped south of the 49th. to afford those conveniences to our neighbours in the south, man had to settle, and build towns in the wilderness, evicting bruin where they built their towns & villages.

When forests are cut down, it stimulates blueberry growth, a favoured food for bears. Maybe, we by clear-cutting enhance numbers of bear. And I have also shared about garbage dumps. And for you sadly man has an appetite for meat protein, whether wild or farmed. There is nothing humane about killing an animal, but civilization has used meat protein, their hides and other byproducts to nourish & sustain themselves since Eden.

So I remain a arrogant, stupid, self-centered human with insane behavior, and god forbid never cancerous! The good news FOR YOU is 12 Pulp & Paper Mills, numerous sawmills, plywood mills, strand-board mills have shut down. Where has the production moved to? Probably to the Amazon and Asian countries to avoid environmental regulations here, and exploit cheap non-union labour.

Towns are shrinking, empty homes being torn down etc. Do you know where most of the people are working now? Alberta's Oil Sand's

Rosemary Lowe

Sorry, Gerald, I had not read your comments in-depth at first glance. Your comments about "protecting humans" is unfortunately a glaring example of Homo sapiens' arrogance towards non-humans. As Linda M. & Sue G. pointed out so well, humans are the problem, not the bears.
You mention "bear attacks on humans" but you fail to mention, that in comparison, the number of bears killed by humans is astronomical compared to the few on humans. Most bear "attacks" are a result of human stupidity, such as poor camping skills, going into bear habitat knowingly, or encroachment/development in the areas where bears are trying to exist. Human "management" of wildlife is a terrible failure, which has nothing to do with protection or preservation of non-human species: it is primarily for the "convenience" and/or so-called "sport" of self-centered humans.

Rosemary Lowe

Thank you, Sue, G., & Gerald for your intelligent, thoughtful comments. This is not a bear problem. It is a human arrogance and stupidity problem. Homo sapiens is a cancer on the planet, encroaching into every corner, grabbing more, developing more of the natural world--where remaining native wild animals live. It is the ultimate of self-centered, insane behavior. This human idea of "management" is another lie, and needs to be challenged, as some of us do. Humans are the ones who need the "management." ET, where are you?
But, our species is in denial, and will not face our destructive tendencies. When a few "survivors" are standing in a barren, lifeless, ruined world, eating each other, they still won't get it. Bear problem, no. Human problem, yes!
I see that some on this blog want to trivialize the core discussion,by diverting it to nonsense; they are the same ones who do this on other blogs.

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Poor bears.