Spring Bear Hunts: A Political Issue, a Moral Issue – but Not A Partisan One.
Mother bears and their cubs need us to act now!
Spring Bear Hunts are particularly cruel. Despite claims to the contrary, hunters often kill nursing mothers with dependent cubs. Orphaned cubs are left to starve to death, or to be killed by other animals. Killing nursing mothers is surely a step too far for most Canadians, even those who don’t consider themselves to be animal advocates.
That’s what is at stake right now.
Mothers and their children need us to speak as loudly as we can to convince Ontario’s government of these political truths:
- If Ontario’s government entrenches and expands the Spring Bear Hunt to satisfy pro- hunting lobbyists, they might win votes in ridings where some people profit from sport hunting businesses, but;
- Ontario’s government will also enrage voters in other ridings, ridings that they will need if they want to form government again.
We can talk about the numerous humane and biological reasons to not hunt bears at all, especially during the spring, but in the end, this is a matter to do with politics. Spring Bear Hunts, and indeed government support of all blood sports comes down to winning ridings where pro-hunting groups have a strong presence.
The antidote to the influence of hunters is for the rest of us to ensure that any party – ALL parties – that support such cruel policies will pay a price at the ballot box. We know that this is not about conserving, managing or controlling bear populations. This is about winning votes and satisfying vocal and well-funded special interest groups.
The Doug Ford government should remember that the former Premier, Kathleen Wynne, reinstated the Spring Bear Hunt as a pilot project, surely in hopes of extending Liberal influence in rural ridings that tend to vote conservative. This crass tactic did not save her government or her political career.
At the end of this blog I will provide you with the information you need to let the PC government know that:
- You oppose the Spring Bear Hunt, and
- You will remember what actions they take at the next election.
But, first, let me explain how support for blood sports as a form of entertainment is surely a political and moral issue, but not as partisan a one as you might think; and why it’s those of us who care about animals who must stand up for them, no matter which party holds power.
The three main parties in Ontario have all failed wild animals.
When it comes to the exploitation of wild animals the three main political parties in Ontario have all failed. All three.
The lobbyists for sport hunters and anglers can count on the Liberals, the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives for support. None of the three main parties has policies to protect wildlife from such exploitation.
It needs to be said that a rare bright light came from a Progressive Conservative government led by then Premier Mike Harris. Natural Resources Minister, John Snobelen, cancelled the Spring Bear Hunt in 1999 to reduce the numbers of orphaned cubs left to die when their mothers are killed.
In a press release, Minister Snobelen said: “The government made the decision to move to end the spring bear hunt because it will not tolerate cubs being orphaned by hunters mistakenly shooting mother bears in the spring.”
Numerous organizations, including Animal Alliance of Canada, fought hard to end Ontario’s Spring Bear Hunt, a rare victory over the voices of hunting lobbyists. And, we had a Progressive Conservative government to thank for that. Along with the elimination of the Spring Bear Hunt, the PC government established a program called ‘Bear Wise’ to resolve human bear conflicts using non-lethal methods – a program considered one of the best in the world.
Unfortunately, the following Liberal government, led by then Premier Dalton McGuinty, began a process of severely weakening the ‘Bear Wise’ program, as he reinstated a Spring Bear Hunt as a pilot project that was limited to certain areas of Ontario. Later, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne expanded the Spring Bear Hunt pilot program to all areas of Ontario inhabited by bears, while essentially eliminating the remaining aspects of the ‘Bear Wise’ program.
It is this Liberal pilot project that the Progressive Conservative government, led by current Premier Doug Ford, is seeking to make permanent, even expanding it. More bears than ever will be killed.
What if Ontario were represented by an NDP government? Would mother bears and their cubs be safer under their watch?
Not according to information from the website of pro-hunting lobbyists, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).
Excerpts from a letter sent from ‘Ontario’s New Democrats’ to OFAH demonstrates their eagerness to pander to sport hunters:
“Ontario’s New Democrats recognize the unique and important role the OFAH’s members play in ensuring that our wilderness, wildlife, and water are protected…
“We [the Ontario NDP] believe that wildlife policy should be developed in partnership with anglers, hunters, trappers, First Nations and other stakeholders — and not imposed from Queen’s Park without proper consultation.”
Note that the “stakeholders” mentioned in this NDP letter only include those who kill wild animals, not any of the numerous organizations like ours that seek to protect them.
Animal Alliance of Canada is often accused of being partisan. Truth is, we are not. No matter what party a legislator belongs to, if they propose policies that hurt animals, we will push back and fight on the side of animals. We believe in holding all politicians accountable for their decisions. And, we commend politicians when they take an action that is fairer to animals, regardless of which party they represent.
Now, we need your help to urge current Ontario Premier Ford to be inspired by the forward-thinking action taken by his predecessors, Premier Mike Harris and Minister John Snobelen.
Let’s urge Premier Ford to not follow in the footsteps of the McGuinty/ Wynne Liberals by going too far in support of a minority special interest group, one that does not represent the majority of Ontario voters.
Ontario citizens have until February 18, 2020 to comment on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
This is a government portal for Ontario citizens to leave their comments, and an essential way to register opposition to the Spring Bear Hunt.
Here is a sample comment, but please express yourself in your own words:
I urge Ontario legislators to cancel the Spring Bear Hunt completely, and to not expand the pilot project instituted by previous Liberal governments. Please, do not follow the misguided plan laid out by previous governments led by another party. And, please note that even though the previous government callously expanded the Spring Bear Hunt pilot project, they still lost power.
When governments do too much to satisfy lobbyists, like those that promote pro-hunting commercial interests, it’s no guarantee that they will win or keep power. Most Ontarians do not hunt, nor do they support sport hunting. Most Ontarians want our public lands to be free of violence.
I urge Ontario Progressive Conservative Party legislators to follow the example provided by former Premier Mike Harris and Minister John Snobelen, when they courageously resisted pressure from hunting lobbyists, a group that does not represent the majority of Ontarians.
Governmental support for sport hunting might gain votes in some ridings, but will surely lose voters’ support in other ridings of Ontario.
A modern province can develop a better tourism plan than inviting non-resident sport hunters who enjoy killing wildlife, animals who have little hope of escape, onto our mutually owned public lands. Ontario’s forests belong to all of us, not just to the businesses that profit from violence against wild animals.
Canadians from other provinces can register their concerns by emailing Ontario’s Premier:
The Honourable Doug Ford
Premier’s Office, Room 281
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park,
Toronto, ON, M7A 1A1
Read more about Animal Alliance of Canada’s long-standing opposition to Spring Bear Hunts, and all sport and trophy hunting, here:
And, please, Donate to Animal Alliance of Canada to help us fight against well-funded special interest groups like pro-hunting lobbyists.
Together, we must keep fighting against those who kill animals for pleasure or profit.
DONATE at: www.animalalliance.ca/donate