Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
For Immediate Release
December 17, 2003

Government Moves to Solve Long-standing Issue

Press release issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

TORONTO The McGuinty government will move to manage nuisance bears and protect Ontario communities and the natural environment, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today.

"For years, governments have not acted on this complex issue, which has frustrated communities, especially in the north. The McGuinty government is ending years of buck-passing by taking the lead in the management of nuisance bears," said Ramsay. "Our nuisance bear strategy will be a real, positive change for people who are looking for a clear solution to this long-standing problem."

The government is taking action on key recommendations from the Nuisance Bear Review Committee report, released last month. The government will not reinstate the spring bear hunt, Ramsay said. "The committee's report found no scientific connection between the cancellation of the spring bear hunt and increases in nuisance bear activity," he said. "Instead, the report concluded that nuisance bear activity is linked to the availability of food and climate conditions."

Ramsay said he shares northerners' concerns about the economic impact of cancelling the spring bear hunt. "My ministry will work as a team with the ministries of Tourism and Recreation and Northern Development and Mines to help develop real and lasting jobs for the northern economy."

The Natural Resources ministry will have a nuisance bear management strategy in place by spring 2004, after discussions with municipalities, police and other stakeholders. The strategy will include such actions as:

  • A nuisance bear response system operating round the clock - with a toll-free number for reporting nuisance bear incidents and personnel dispatched to the scene if necessary.
  • Assistance to municipalities to help prevent bear problems, and
  • Increased public education on bear management, and an improved bear population management system to better track the bear population and manage the harvest.

"Together with municipalities, police and citizens, our government is moving in a new direction to help protect the people of Ontario, their communities and the natural environment," said Ramsay.

Backgrounder: Nuisance Bear Management

For More Information:

Kevin McGuire
Minister's Office
(416) 314-2210

Jolanta Kowalski
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
(416) 314-2198


The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) will take a multi-pronged approach to bear management. While MNR will hold discussions with municipalities and stakeholders on the details of a nuisance bear management strategy, the following three initiatives will be key parts of such a strategy.

  • Nuisance Bear Response System
    MNR will put in place a 1-800 number that people can use to report nuisance bear problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff would follow an established protocol to identify situations where an individual needs to be dispatched to the site.
  • Support to Municipalities
    MNR will establish a program to support efforts by municipalities to avoid nuisance bear problems in their community. The ministry will also work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to develop a generic by-law that municipalities could use to help prevent nuisance bear incidents.
  • Bear Education Program
    The ministry will expand its current education efforts on bear management and implement an effective, comprehensive education campaign to help people know how to deal with bear encounters and how to eliminate bear attractants.

In addition to the above initiatives, the ministry will put in place an improved bear harvest management system. As recommended by the Nuisance Bear Review Committee, a provincial harvest allocation system will be set up, as well as an enhanced population monitoring system and more data collection and analysis. The goal is to ensure clear bear management objectives, the sustainability of black bear populations and the continuation of bear hunting opportunities and associated economic benefits. Bear harvest in 2001 reached levels close to those recorded before the spring bear hunt was cancelled.

For More Information:

Jolanta Kowalski
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
(416) 314-2198