Banning the spring bear hunt is political as much as all government decisions are political but preventing cubs from being orphaned is not a “sell-out to special interests like environmentalists.”
Environmentalists are no more a special interest group than are tourist operators.
And, if the ban is “electioneering to woo voters in southern Ontario,” then the Tory government is ill-advised. Among aware voters, the Tories’ failing grade for environmental protection has not changed as a result of this single, bold move.
Conservationists, preservationists, and environmentalists may be saying kudos to Mr. Harris now but they still won’t support him in the upcoming election. Why, then, decide to eliminate the spring bear hunt?
Banning the hunt is doing the right thing. No other large, North American mammal is hunted when survival of its young is still dependent on survival of a parent. Nevertheless, tourist operators argue that the hunt could continue because the population is in “excellent shape.”
Regardless, the practice of orphaning cubs is unethical and amoral.
Also, claims by tourist operators that the killing of sows is a “very rare” occurrence is contrary to scientific evidence revealing 30-40 percent of spring kills are mother bears.
And, then there is the outcry about the hardship that is likely to beset some tourist operators. Well, if tourist operators and hunt participants are in favour of the continued sacrifice of new life for money, then clearly they are already (morally) bankrupt.
When portioning the blame, tourist operators should look to themselves. Tourist operators cannot genuinely claim that they “have been blind-sided.” Over the years, there has been much written and spoken about the poor timing of the hunt.
If tourist operators had responded constructively to these legitimate concerns, instead of dismissing them as the emotional ranting of southern Ontarians and environmentalists, they may have foreseen—and be able to defer—implementation of control measures.
For the future, tourist operators should take notice that regardless of which party is next elected, the decision to kill the spring hunt will be upheld and, in alignment with the principles of fair chase, changes to the practice of baiting and waiting in ambush are likely forthcoming.
Gord Earle, B.Sc., B.Ed.
Fish & Wildlife