For Immediate Release
No link between nuisance bears and spring bear hunt cancellation.
Coalition of animal protection and environmental groups slam pro spring bear hunt bias of Tory Committee
November 12, 2003: A coalition of animal protection and environmental groups condemns the recommendation by the Tory appointed "Nuisance Bear Review Committee" to re-introduce the spring bear hunt. The Committee's Report and Recommendations, released by Natural Resource Minister David Ramsay on November 10th , confirms the Committee's bias and its disregard for its mandate.
The coalition includes Animal Alliance of Canada, the Animal Protection Institute, the Bear Alliance, Environment Voters, the Ottawa Carlton Wildlife Centre, and Zoocheck Canada.
The Committee was "charged with reviewing all aspects of the nuisance bear issue in Ontario, preparing a report with recommendations and submitting it to the Minister of Natural Resources" (Nuisance Bear Review Committee, Report and Recommendations, August 28, 2003, pg 8)
"The Committee disregarded its mandate when it recommended the re-instatement of the spring bear hunt," said Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance of Canada. "The Committee was given clear direction. The report states clearly that there is no connection between increases in nuisance bear complaints and the cancellation of the hunt. Nevertheless, Committee members recommended the re-introduction for socio-economic reasons. In fact, there are no recommendations made by this Committee about solving nuisance bear issues. The recommendations confirm what we've always known: the study was not about finding solutions to nuisance bears issues, but rather a political ploy to legitimize the re-introduction of the spring bear hunt."
"I am angry and disappointed that after all the time and expense that has supposedly gone into studying the nuisance bear situation, a more comprehensive and proactive program was not recommended," said Barry MacKay, International representative for the Animal Protection Institute and a Director with Zoocheck Canada. "Many of the recommendations were made in past consultations, but of course, under the Tory government, funding for the Ministry was substantially cut, significantly reducing research, monitoring and enforcement.
"Recommending the re-introduction of the spring bear is unjustifiable and irresponsible," continued Mr. MacKay. "The report acknowledges no connection between the nuisance bear issue and the cancellation of the hunt. Appendix 17 clearly demonstrates that garbage was responsible for close to 50% of the nuisance bear calls in the south central region. Exclusion of bears from garbage sites would obviously address at least half of the human bear interactions, and yet the Committee made no recommendations about garbage."
"I find it very encouraging that the media release from the Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay, made it clear that the committee could find no evidence of a scientific link between nuisance bear activity and the Tories cancellation of the spring bear hunt," said Stephen Best, Director of Environment Voters. "Premier McGuinty has repeatedly indicated his support for the cancellation of the spring bear hunt. He's even done so in writing. Environment Voters supported the election of eight Liberals in the last election, in part because of Mr. McGuinty's commitment to sustain the ban. We are confident that Mr. McGuinty will keep his promise and will not re-open the hunt."
"As someone who has been subjected to the heavy hand of the Ministry of Natural Resources, I can't say that I am surprised by the Committee's disregard for its mandate, waste of public funds, and contempt for broader public opinion," said Donna DuBrueil, President of the Ottawa Carlton Wildlife Centre. "We did not participate in the consultation because we believed that the Committee's real mandate was to recommend the re-introduction of the spring bear hunt. As it turns out, we were right. The recommendations are largely about hunting regulations, data collection from hunting, more studies and - surprise! - the re-introduction of the spring hunt. Wildlife rehabilitation organizations, who could have been a tremendous resource to the Committee because many have handled bears and bear complaints for years, were deliberately ignored."