Paul Hryskiw, Ancaster
The Ministry of Natural Resources admits Ontario’s bear population has remained stable for decades. Alternatives to killing (relocation of juvenile bears, securing garbage, removing food and excess bird seed from the ground, etc.) will work if the ministry would continue to be fully involved in the development and implementation of the Bear Wise Program. Unfortunately, the MNR has virtually abandoned the project by downloading the human/bear conflict resolution to local municipalities and police forces.
Northern communities are concerned that human/bear conflicts are increasing. There were two provoked bear attacks last year in Ontario, both involving dogs off-leash in rural settings. There has not been a human killed by a black bear in this province for more than 100 years.
Still, no animal activist I know would call a black bear “cuddly.” They would respect bears for what they are—strong, powerful, resourceful, intelligent non-confrontational creatures looking to survive in a world we are steadily taking from them. The letter-writer believes adult male bears habitually eat their young and concludes that killing adult males is good because the cubs survive. Scientifically, however, if we kill enough males, there will be no cubs.
The spring bear hunt is also no standard hunt. Pails of bait (sandwiches, doughnuts, table scraps, whatever) are set out for hungry bears fresh from hibernation. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and for extra fun, dogs are unleashed.
In places like Elliot Lake, Jim Johnston’s Bear Smart Program is proving that peaceful, non-lethal strategies will work when the will is there.