Ontario bans spring bear hunt

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1999:

of shooting groggy bears as they awake from
winter hibernation won a round in tough territory
on January 14 when Ontario natural
resources minister John Snobelen announced
a long-sought ban on spring bear hunting.
Snobelen acknowledged that killing
bears in spring had orphaned about 270 bear
cubs per year, few of whom survived.
“We’ve looked at various options
to make sure that bear cubs aren’t orphaned,”
Snobelen said. “The only answer we came
up with was to end the spring bear hunt. It’s
the only acceptable way.”

According to Canadian Press,
“Ontario, with 75,000 to 100,000 bears, has
one of the largest bear populations in North
America. Its rugged north has become a
haven for hunters eager to display bear heads
over their fireplace mantles. The spring bear
hunt, when bears are weak from hunger, is
popular among many affluent U.S. hunters,
who are offered guarantees that they will not
return home without a trophy.”
About 8,000 bears have been killed
per year in Ontario during the past
decade––4,000 during the spring season,
4,000 in fall. Of the spring toll, about 75%
were killed by U.S. visitors.
Estimating that bear hunting is
worth about $10 million a year to Ontario,
Snobelen tried to keep the money coming by
extending the fall bear hunt by two extra
weeks. Hunting industry spokespersons
responded that spring bear hunting is worth
$40 million a year to them, which if true
would suggest that a great deal of revenue is
not reported to Revenue Canada.
Claiming to have killed about a
dozen Ontario bears in spring hunts during
the past 30 years, aging heavy metal rockand-roller
Ted Nugent, a Michigan resident,
asked fellow hunters to boycott Ontario in
protest. Nugent claimed to have strong public
“I even got calls from guys who
said, ‘Yeah, me and my buddies go across to
the topless bars…but we ain’t going any
more. We’ll just have our girlfriends strip,’”
Nugent told Canadian Press.
The Ontario Federation of Hunters
and Anglers claimed the spring bear hunt ban
violated the Canadian Charter of Rights,
arguing that hunting is a matter of personal
Canadian Press attributed the imposition
of the ban, sought by wildlife lovers
for decades, to the success of advertising
campaigns conducted last fall in eight key
Hamilton-Niagara region ridings held by
Progressive-Conservative members of the
Ontario legislature.
“What appeared to stir residents,”
Canadian Press speculated, “was a sevenminute
video, 15,000 copies of which were
distributed” in the targeted ridings, “against
the spring bear hunt and the orphaning of
cubs. Telephone numbers for local Members
of Parliament appeared at the end.”
Two weeks after the Ontario ban,
British Columbia environment minister Cathy
McGregor also risked hunter wrath, closing
spring grizzly bear hunts in four areas where
the bears are deemed especially vulnerable.
A British Columbia environment
ministry spokesperson reportedly attributed
McGregor’s action in part to the influence of
a dossier entitled Trigger Happy, published
in September 1998 by the British-based
Environmental Investigation Agency. In it,
the EIA accused the B.C. government of in
effect “managing” grizzly bears to extinction.

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