Fish and wildlife in Northern Ontario is facing a crisis created by years of mismanagement and hidden agendas of politicians who have little or no clue how to manage this northern resource.
Too often, politicians have used this ministry to win over voters in the large urban centres by making policies that are considered “green” and trendy.
One just needs to look at why the spring bear hunt was cancelled in the 1990s. People were inundated with pictures of cute bear cubs hanging from every bus shelter in every city with the caption “Orphaned bear cub.”
An activist group was successful in convincing the urban population that there were a million of these orphan bear cubs residing in our northern forests.
Instead of using science, the government bowed to the pressure from people like the GTA voter and banned the spring bear hunt. It took more than 20 years, and Lord knows how many millions of dollars were wasted on dealing with nuisance bears, before this situation was corrected.
Another example of this mismanagement happened in the case of the cormorant. The government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry refused to listen to the citizens of Northern Ontario and failed to take any action.
It was only when the cormorants devastated the vegetation of Point Pelee National Park that the government demanded something must take place.
The Northern Ontario Party is tired of trusting a mismanaged Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry with ensuring the health and conservation of our fish and wildlife in the north. We are tired of having our fishing limits lowered and hunting seasons shortened year after year because of declining wildlife populations.
We are tired of hearing the MNRF's false promises that they will fix the problem—only to hear them blame it on global warming a year later.
Trevor Holliday, the Northern Ontario Party leader, states that we have been hearing the same stories from the ministry for years. We have less people fishing and hunting than ever before, but our moose population continues to decline and the fishing limits continue to drop.
It doesn't make sense. The only things that seems to have increased in population over the years is our black bears and wolves.
If you or I have had this success rate with our employment, we would be looking for another job.
The Northern Ontario Party demands that the provincial government creates a Northern Ministry of Fish and Wildlife run by northerners. This ministry would be mandated to listen to local northern fish and wildlife groups, and implement their conservation recommendations.
These groups have an in-depth knowledge with what is occurring with local wildlife and can be a real asset when developing regulations.
The Northern Ontario Party also would demand that we bring all stakeholders to the table and discuss a comprehensive strategy for wildlife in Northern Ontario. This would include bringing in the First Nations and having an open discussion on the numbers of animals being harvested.
No one is talking about taking away treaty rights. We are talking about getting a clear picture of what is happening in the north and setting regulations on accurate numbers.
The Northern Ontario Party also wants to see funding given to the First Nations to create their own conservation programs. This would allow them to have control over the fish and wildlife on their treaty lands and, eventually, over remote northern areas.
Editor's note: The above release was submitted by Myles Clayton, Media and Social Media manager, Northern Ontario Party.