A swing and a miss

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has an incredible bear wise program. Available for download to anyone – and sent out to all media outlets multiple times a year – it can save lives, both of human and bears.

It’s got all of the basics – how to safely store food, how to avoid bears, what to do in case of encounters and more. It’s a great program that shows the government’s commitment to protecting wildlife.

Almost.

While the government has taken steps to prevent conflict, there’s one gaping hole in their program: baiting.

Baiting is the practice of putting out attractants – most commonly food – in order to lure a target species into a specific location for the purpose of hunting. It’s an old practice and is one that puts lives in jeopardy.

Bears and other wildlife are intelligent, sentient beings capable of learning. And when a hunter baits an area, all the animals know that there is – or was recently – food in that location. The unfortunate side of this is that there’s no need for signage or warnings. What was yesterday a bait site for a hunter could tomorrow be a camp site for a hiker.

It is a recipe for disaster.

We know that attractants are the base of many human/wildlife conflicts. In municipalities across the country, policy-makers are banning feeding (unintentional as well as intentional) of wildlife to prevent future conflicts.

Despite the fact that the Ontario MNR is spending resources on this nearly-great bear wise program, the sanction of baiting can – and likely will – undo any protections put in place for bears, and for the humans who share their land.

Contact your Member of Provincial Parliament today and tell them to put a stop to baiting in Ontario.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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