This consultation was open from:
January 17, 2020
to February 18, 2020
We are proposing to implement a regular spring black bear season, shorten the Bruce Peninsula black bear hunting season, and make other minor updates to black bear regulations.
Ontario is home to a healthy black bear population that contributes to the province’s biodiversity and provides social and economic benefits to Ontarians. Ontario’s Framework for Enhanced Black Bear Management (2009) provides strategic policy direction regarding Ontario’s approach to black bear management.
Proposal to implement a regular spring black bear season
In 2014, the ministry implemented a 2-year black bear spring season pilot from May 1st to June 15th in eight Wildlife Management Units in northern Ontario.
In 2016, the ministry extended the black bear spring season pilot for an additional 5-years and expanded it to include all Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) where there was an open season for black bear in the fall. The spring season pilot will end on June 15th, 2020. Hunters and the tourism industry have expressed a desire for certainty on the future of the spring season.
We are proposing to continue the spring black bear season beyond 2020 for residents and non-residents in all Wildlife Management Units where there is a fall black bear season. The spring season would continue to run annually from May 1st to June 15th (except for WMUs 82A, 83 and 84 – see below for additional information). The harvest of bear cubs and female bears accompanied by a cub would remain prohibited. Bear licences and tags would remain valid for both the spring or fall season.
As part of this proposal, mandatory hunter reporting deadlines for resident bear hunters would be simplified by requiring one report submission for the year (rather than the current spring and fall reports depending on when the hunter purchased their licence). A report is required even if a hunter did not participate in the hunt or harvest an animal. The ministry would maintain the existing reporting requirements for non-resident hunters and continue to require a report after each season.
If this proposal proceeds, it would come into effect on January 1, 2021 to provide sufficient time to notify affected stakeholders and the tourism industry.
Proposal to address Bruce Peninsula black bear population concerns
Since the mid-2000s there has been ongoing collaborative research conducted on the black bear population on the Bruce Peninsula. Research indicates that there has been a decline in bear numbers and that human-caused mortality should be reduced to support sustainability of this genetically isolated population.
Currently, the spring and fall black bear seasons run from May 1st to June 15th and September 3rd to November 30th respectively.
We are proposing to reduce the bear hunting and trapping season to one-week from May 1 to May 7 in WMUs 82A, 83 and 84 (and to close the fall season) to support the long-term sustainability of the local black bear population on the Bruce Peninsula. The proposed shortened season is intended to continue to allow for a limited hunt, while reducing human-caused mortality (particularly on female bears).
If this proposal proceeds, it would come into effect for spring 2020. We will continue to monitor the Bruce Peninsula black bear harvest and population to assess if the proposed changes are addressing sustainability concerns.
Updates to black bear regulations to improve fairness
- We are proposing to eliminate special black bear hunting opportunities for non-resident landowners and non-resident immediate relatives. This would redistribute opportunities to tourism industry businesses and simplify licensing processes. Non-resident landowners or immediate relatives of Ontario residents will no longer be eligible to obtain a black bear tag and validation certificate unless they are hunting through a licensed bear operator. This proposal is intended to better distribute hunting opportunities in a consistent and fair manner. If this proposal proceeds, it would come into effect on January 1, 2021.
- We are proposing to require individuals or businesses to have a ‘Licence to Provide Black Bear Hunting Services’ to provide guiding services to residents within a Bear Management Area. This proposal is intended to improve fairness to all those offering bear hunting services by addressing the issue of persons providing black bear hunting services to residents within the same Bear Management Area where a licensed bear operator is authorized to provide services. This practice has created conflict and business challenges in some cases. If this proposal proceeds, it would come into effect on January 1, 2021.
The ministry intends to amend Ontario Regulation 665/98 (Hunting) and Ontario Regulation 670/98 (Open Seasons-Wildlife) under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to implement the changes should the proposal proceed.
The ministry will continue to work with stakeholders to explore enhanced harvest management approaches/systems to help address black bear management challenges and stakeholder concerns. A separate Environmental Registry posting would be provided on any future potential changes to black bear management.
In a posting earlier this year (May-June 2019), we also proposed to change the minimum distance requirement for placement of bait from rights of way and trails for black bear hunting. The comment period on this posting has closed.
Public consultation opportunities
To comment on the proposal, please submit your comments online by clicking the ‘Submit a comment’ button, or by reaching out to the contact(s) listed. The ministry may notify some groups that otherwise are unlikely to become aware of the proposal.
Regulatory impact statement
The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are expected to be neutral. Proposed changes to open seasons for black bears on the Bruce Peninsula are intended to address concerns regarding local populations. We will continue to monitor bear populations and hunter reporting data across the province to inform decision making.
The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are expected to be both positive and negative. Implementing a regular spring black bear season beyond 2020 will be positive by continuing to provide opportunities for hunting and trapping. Closing the fall season and shortening the spring season on the Bruce Peninsula may cause some concerns with the potential loss of hunting and trapping opportunities, however the ministry recognizes the need to take action to respond to the decline in bear numbers to support sustainability of this genetically isolated population.
The anticipated economic consequences of the proposals are expected to be neutral to positive. Continuing the spring season as a regular annual season beyond 2020 will provide certainty of continued hunting and trapping opportunities and related economic benefits. The proposed changes to remove special opportunities for non-resident landowners and immediate relatives will redistribute those opportunities to licensed operators resulting in additional economic opportunities for businesses.
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