Bear - Setting the Record Straight

By Doug Reynolds, Executive Director

This letter was forwarded to the NOTO office from one of our members who had received it from a concerned traveler.

Hello, I looked on your website and was interested in staying there… that is until I came across your bear hunting page. You know full well that black bears are endangered in Ontario, their numbers are decreasing dramatically. And if you don’t know the situation they are in, it makes you ignorant to your surroundings. I can’t believe that you would actually market this disgusting sport to attract travellers. Ontario will soon put a ban on bear hunting and when they do I hope you remember all the bears you helped kill for no reason other than sport. Do not ignore my letter and dispose it as if it means nothing to you. I will continue to write until I get a proper response.

This is our response to the concerned individual.

Dear XXXX:

One of our members forwarded your comments on black bear hunting to me, and I would like to offer some comments of my own.

I very much appreciate your interest in black bears and your concern for a healthy, diverse natural environment. Black bears are an absolutely magnificent creature, and we need to treat them in a respectful and responsible way.

Unfortunately, you have received some misinformation regarding the health of black bear populations in Ontario. Ontario has a very large population of black bears - more than 150,000 according to many reliable estimates. Although Ministry of Natural Resources estimates as shown on their website http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/bears/ are a little lower, this still translates into very healthy, sustainable numbers. These numbers are growing, as well.

Our organization and industry would never support the hunting of an Animal whose numbers are endangered. However, we consider hunting to be an appropriate, environmentally responsible activity if certain important criteria are met.

Ontario law requires that these conditions be met, and our organization strongly supports this stance.

Starvation and other natural causes result in the death of a significant portion of any wildlife population over the course of a year. We believe that it is appropriate and responsible for a certain number of animals to be hunted and eaten by people as part of this annual cycle. It should be noted that the total number of animals taken by hunters each year is only a very small portion of overall annual mortality. Responsible hunting of healthy populations does not adversely impact the health of the overall population - it usually simply replaces other forms of mortality.

I fully appreciate that you may not personally approve of hunting as an activity, and it is certainly your right to hold that belief. I did want to make sure, however, that you had accurate information to support your beliefs and impressions. If you are still uncomfortable vacationing with a tourist operator who conducts bear hunts, there are many operators available who are not involved in hunting at all. However, I did want to clarify to you that criticizing or condemning an operator as environmentally irresponsible for being involved in bear hunting is simply not consistent with the facts about our bear population.

If I can be of any further help, either in clarifying this issue or in helping you to locate a vacation opportunity that meets your needs, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Doug Reynolds
Executive Director


This article was taken from page 11 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Summer 2004 Issue

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