"I know what you mean," said the cameraman. It turned out that he was the one who had photographed a spring hunt back in 1998, for a segment that I had also been on, that appeared on the news. A hunter shot what he thought was a huge bear. "We all ran up to it," the cameraman recalled, "and really, it wasn't much bigger than a labrador retriever." The news show caught it all.
Last year, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, without bothering to consult with the bear biologists we taxpayers paid for within his own Ministry, or academics who also study bears, instituted a spring hunt in five regions across northern Ontario (limited, however, to Ontario residents). The real money in the original spring hunt came from American, and some European, hunters with a desire to kill bears and none of their own to kill. Many Ontario hunters have no desire to shoot hungry bears starving for food and attracted by garbage, and look down at the practice with disdain.
There have been seven recorded fatal black bear attacks in Ontario in 133 years, with none in a residential area. Contrary to myth, mother bears with cubs have never killed anyone. And yet, spring hunt proponents claimed that killing maybe 300 bears (about 200 were acknowledged to have been killed in last year's spring bear hunt, with an "estimated" additional 100 "not reported") will somehow reduce whatever risk the remaining 100,000 (no one is sure of the exact numbers) might pose. When the spring hunt was stopped in 1999, the fall hunt was expanded, with no significant decline in the number of bears killed. The Ministry's own research, including the most recent paper published by the International Association for Bear Research and Management (of which I am a member), clearly shows that the spring hunt made no difference in the level of risk bears pose to humans.