Nova Scotia nixes spring bear hunt pilot following public consultation

The Nova Scotia government says it will not be moving forward with a proposed pilot for a spring bear hunt. (Sali Cunningham - image credit)
The Nova Scotia government says it will not be moving forward with a proposed pilot for a spring bear hunt. (Sali Cunningham - image credit)

Nova Scotia will remain the only province in the country with a black bear population and no spring bear hunt.

The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday. It comes after the department held public consultations, including an online survey, soliciting opinions on the issue.

Over 17,000 Nova Scotians responded to the survey, with 51 per cent opposed to the hunt and 47 per cent in favour, while two per cent were neutral.

Many of those who said they were opposed to the hunt cited concerns over bear conservation, potential safety issues, and the potential for conflict with other outdoor activities.

The department had proposed a spring hunt pilot project starting May 20 and running five weeks until June 22, excluding Sundays.

The hunt would have followed similar regulations as the fall hunt, permitting only the killing of male bears and females with no cubs.

Hunters would still have been limited to one bear per year.

According to data from the province, the bear population in Nova Scotia is believed to be stable or increasing.

The province said in its release that it would be working with Acadia University on a research project to improve knowledge about black bears in the province.

Organizations weigh in

The department said it also received 134 emails from people and 10 letters from organizations. Most of the feedback was not in support of the hunt, it said.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Big Game Society and the Safari Club were supportive of the hunt. The Ecology Action Centre, Nature Nova Scotia, Humane Society International Canada, Animal Alliance of Canada, Healthy Forest Coalition and the Municipality of Pictou County were opposed, it said.

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia did not express a view, the department said.

Sali Cunningham, president of the Nova Scotia chapter for Safari Club International, a hunting rights and wildlife conservation group, said she was "incredibly disappointed in the outcome of the survey."

Cunningham said she believes the province gave greater weight to emotional concerns about the spring bear hunt than scientific ones, suggesting that if the pilot went ahead, it would have given the province the data it needed to make an informed decision.

"When we're talking about conservation of species, we have to put that emotion aside and allow for just the facts of what the science tells us," Cunningham said.