National Affairs, Published on Fri Mar 07 2014
The issue is the spring bear hunt. Premier Kathleen Wynne is proposing to start up this dubious practice again for a two-year trial period
Tim Hudak’s Conservatives want the hunt reinstated, period. Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats walk a delicate line of deliberate obscurity.
But all three parties are running scared — fearful that any opposition to a renewal of the spring hunt could endanger their chances in key northern ridings.
Conversely, if they appear too eager to see bears killed, they might lose southern votes in an election that could come this spring.
There are up to 105,000 black bears in Ontario — virtually all of them in the north. For several weeks each fall, it is perfectly legal to shoot and kill them.
Until 1999, licensed hunters could also shoot and kill bears each spring. Mothers and cubs were supposed to be given a free pass. But in the thrill of the chase, such niceties weren’t always observed.
The preferred method of hunting a bear is to entice the animal into a kill zone by planting bait — and then blast away from the safety of a raised platform.
Not very sporting perhaps. But effective.
Fifteen years ago, to the surprise of the sporting lobby, Conservative premier Mike Harris cancelled the spring hunt.