Northern Ontario Bear Management Association Members Upset with MNRF Process

The newly formed association representing bear management area operators has grave concerns regarding the overall management practices for the black bear population in Northeastern Ontario.

The Northeastern Ontario Bear Management Association (NOBMA) was formed in the summer of 2016 to give Bear Management Area (BMA) operators an organized voice and to offer input to the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) regarding management of the black bear population in the province. The group has members across the MNRF’s Northeast Region and wants to work cooperatively with the Ministry on bear management issues.  During a recent meeting with Ministry staff, NOBMA presented both issues and solutions to the MNRF regarding five areas of concern crucial to bear management. The main concern revolves around the process used by MNRF to issue non-resident bear hunting license validation forms in 2016 which caused financial hardship and industry confusion when implemented.

In 2016 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) re-opened the spring bear hunt in all wildlife management units that currently support a fall bear hunt. The spring bear hunt was re-opened as a five year trial management program and will allow participation of non-resident hunters. The fall bear hunt season remained unchanged from previous years.  MNRF stated that the objective of the spring hunt was to lessen human-bear conflicts and to support economic growth and tourism in Northern and Central Ontario.  Non-resident hunters must hunt through a MNRF licensed Bear Management Area (BMA) operator.

For the 2017 bear hunt season, MNRF chose not to consult with the industry or consider the NOBMA’s recommendations.  When considering allocation of the required Form 33’s for non–resident hunters, they arbitrarily chose a number not based on science and have stated there will be no negotiation of the 2017 allocation.  NOBMA is very disappointed with this decision.  The Ministry had an opportunity to improve the allocation process by initiating recommendations made by industry members; instead they chose to act unilaterally without industry consultation.

MNRF has not accomplished either of their stated objectives.  They have restricted tourism opportunities by limiting the number of non-resident hunters while allowing other reductions in bear numbers to go uncontrolled.  They have failed in reducing human-bear conflicts especially in residential and agricultural areas by not allocating higher non-resident hunter numbers in these areas.

The Northeast Region Bear Management Association is hopeful that MNRF will change its position and allow negotiation for 2017.  They also hope that in the future MNRF will develop a process that allows NOBMA to work with them in a cooperative manner in the management of bear populations in the North East Region.

Mickey Major

President,

Northeastern Ontario Bear Management Association