|Written By: Bud Dickson
Former NOTO President
|Originally Published in the September/October 1995
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
Summer is flying by and, as usual, I wish it would slow down. I hope that this month’s message finds everyone well and enjoying the best of this summer season.
Presently, we’re in the midst of a very serious forest fire dilemma and travel into Quetico Park (where my canoe outfitting is done) has been banned. I guess it’s just another day at the office in the life of an outfitter.
The NOTO office has also been a busy place. Both Premier Harris and the Honourable Chris Hodgson, Minister of Natural Resources, have requested meetings with us.
Many topics and issues have to be discussed ranging from the development of a Resource-Based Tourism Policy to the future of hunting, as well as native concerns, the economic potential of tourism and so on.
This month, however, I want to tell you about a group that has just been formed call The Bear Alliance.
At the end of June a number of groups came together in Toronto under the invitation of the Animal Alliance to lay the groundwork for a campaign to end spring bear hunting in Ontario as well as the international trade in, and illegal sale of, bear parts.
This new group, called “The Bear Alliance”, includes such “environmental” groups as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Bear Watch (from B.C.), and the Humane Societies International, as well as native groups.
The Bear Alliance is also receiving substantial funding support for their agenda from Husky Injection Moulding Systems, base out of Southern Ontario.
Both NOTO and the OFAH learned of the meeting one week before it took place. Both groups tried to get invited but our requests were rejected. We spoke and wrote to a Director of the Animal Alliance, Ainslie Willock, protesting their decision and were advised that the WWF had been asked to represent our views!
After the meeting ended, NOTO learned the Bear Alliance plans to use the following tactics to achieve their goals:
A multi-media campaign (TV, radio, newspaper ads and articles) to raise public awareness about their view of the spring hunt;
Trying to embarrass Ontario and Canada through international media campaigns in the same fashion as was done with seal hunting;
Legal challenges under the Game and Fish Act with regard to baiting.
Do not take this group lightly! They are on a mission. They don’t care about your livelihood or the economy of northern communities. Total preservation is their only focus.
The bear hunting industry in Ontario brings approximately $40 million annually to the province. With spin-offs the impact is closer to $200 million annually. Fortunately for us, the new Mike Harris Government seems to care about the health of Northern Ontario’s economy and the jobs it sustains.
NOTO and the OFAH are working hard with the new Government to ensure they clearly understand the significance of hunting to our communities and local economies.
Each of us must do our part to battle the Bear Alliance’s agenda.
As an industry we have to take the high ground.
We must ensure the sustainability of the resource. We cannot be perceived as over-harvesting this precious resource. We must ensure that our guests receive the highest level of education and awareness and ask them to educate others so they will not be swayed by the media campaign.
Clearly, we are entering a battle. The Bear Alliance is well funded and passionate. They are not going to go away.
As always, NOTO will be there for the industry, but we need your support. Write a letter to Mr. Harris and your local MPP and tell them what the loss of the spring bear hunt would mean to your business.
Also remember that the MNR and their biologists support us. There is no biological evidence that proves spring bear hunting to be a detriment to the resource.