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Ontario plans limited spring bear hunt

Nov. 15, 2013 at 1:52 AM

TORONTO, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Ontario plans a spring bear hunt in parts of the Canadian province in an effort to get rid of nuisance bears, Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said.

Orazietti described the hunt as a two-year pilot project, the Toronto Star reported. Hunters would be banned from shooting female bears or their cubs.

"Public safety is paramount," Orazietti said in a statement Thursday. "We have heard increasingly from some northern Ontario municipalities that they are concerned about public safety and human-bear conflicts."

The proposal attracted criticism from those who say it does not go far enough and from animal rights activists who do not want any hunting of bears. Ontario ended its spring bear hunt in 1999, although there is still a fall season.

The province has an estimated 105,000 bears, a population Orazietti said is sustainable.

Animal rights activists said hunters in the spring could shoot females by mistake, leaving cubs orphaned. With no one to teach them how to forage for food, they could become dependent on humans.

John Vanthof, a member of the provincial parliament and owner of a farm near New Liskeard, said nuisance bears are a problem in many areas in Ontario, not just the five in the plan. Vanthof said that while he was campaigning in 2007 he spotted two bears on a constituent's doorstep in Iroquois Falls.

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