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Spring Bear Hunt - Our Position


 “Spring Black Bear Season” in Nova Scotia – Our Position

The Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers & Hunters has, for more than 15 years, requested that the Government of Nova Scotia introduce a Spring Bear Hunt.

“We believe that a spring bear hunt is an excellent example of sustainable development in practice, where the benefits from a renewable natural resource are maximized and the costs to society are minimized. This premise ensures that the bear remains a valued asset rather than an unwanted expenditure”

Individual Benefits

For the spring bear hunter, the hunt would provide new opportunities in the spring of the year to be rewarded with the riches of the hunting experience including self-fulfillment, self-improvement, a sense of accomplishment, wholesome food for the table, valuable hides and sharing knowledge and adventures with fellow hunters, family and friends. As with any other hunting season, hunters describe it as a spiritual experience akin to religion.

Wildlife Management Benefits

As a wildlife management tool, a spring bear hunt would supply biological, social and economic benefits. The spring hunt would reduce bear densities, particularly male bears, and reduced bear densities immediately prior to the peak conflict period. Lower bear density has been linked to lower rates of cannibalism by male bears on other bears, predation on moose calves and deer fawns, and reduced human-bear conflicts. Predation on the calves of the Endangered Mainland Moose is a particular concern.






Biologists tell us that Nova Scotia’s black bear population is capable of sustaining a spring season in addition to the current fall season. During the initial impact assessment of a spring hunt, licensed hunters could still be limited to hunting one bear per year and would be able to hunt in the spring, the fall, or both.

 Socio-Economic Benefits

Hunting brings economic activity to rural areas of the province, a spring hunt would bring new activity in a shoulder season prior to summer tourism. Currently each spring sees tens of thousands of dollars leave the province as hunters travel to other jurisdictions to hunt spring bear. A spring bear hunt in Nova Scotia would keep much of that economic activity within the province and would also attract out of province hunters to bring in new economic activity. A spring bear hunt would expand the opportunities for our guides and outfitters to attract business and the Government would see increased revenue from the sale of non-resident bear hunting licences.

The Government would also see a decrease in the cost of dealing with nuisance bears and paying compensation for crop damage. Each year Department of Lands & Forestry expends tens of thousands of dollars in staff time dealing with nuisance complaints and trapping and relocating problem bears. Trap & Relocate programs have proven largely unsuccessful and as the DLF fact sheet “Bear Facts” says Nova Scotia is a small province with few large wild areas. There's no empty space (habitat) to send a captured bear because other bears live there.”

As habitat shrinks and human settlement expands there is greater potential for conflict situations with black bears. In the past 20 years there have been 25 Black Bear attacks resulting in death in North America. It hasn’t happened here, but they said that about coyotes too.

Each year the Government pays out compensation for bear damage to crops & Livestock. In 2018 the pay-out was $ 69,473, which is only a small fraction of the total damage due to farmer participation and claims restrictions. A spring bear hunt would reduce bear density, fewer bears fewer problems, less damage. 




Cub Orphaning and Mortality

Animal rights activists claim that hunters orphan cubs. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. It is an offence under the Nova Scotia Bear Hunting Regulations to shoot a female bear with cubs and would continue to be an offence during a spring hunt. Accidental cub orphaning by hunters is extremely rare and the numbers used by anti-hunters is grossly exaggerated. Most bears are hunted over a bait site which gives the hunter lots of time to determine if a bear is a female with cubs.  

The most frequent causes of cub death are starvation and being killed by male bears. If the cubs are killed the female will come into season and mate with the male. Most cases this occurs in the spring and summer before the fall hunt begins. The spring hunt has the potential to reduce cub killings by targeting male bears.

Bear cubs can become separated from their mother for various reasons: abandonment due to insufficient milk production; environmental conditions such as fire or drought; human disturbance at den sites such as resource extraction or snowmobiling; or when the mother is killed by a vehicle, or as a nuisance

Bear Behaviour

With no spring hunt, there are now more bears in the population and there are more cannibalistic males in the woods that cause other bears to avoid them, and thus, seek food in areas near people. Natural food failures exacerbate these effects. Female bears with cubs searching the woods for scarce natural foods need to avoid males, and can be forced into areas of human presence. In the spring, black bears concentrate their movements in a fairly predictable manner, enabling hunters to be more successful. Furthermore, differential den emergence times means that the spring hunt is very sex-selective. Since sows with cubs emerge from the den later than other bears, they tend to be much less susceptible to hunting activity because many of them are still in the den during the spring hunting season.

Next Steps

The Federation has once again written to the Minister of Lands & Forestry asking for a spring bear season. You can add your support by writing to the Minister of Lands & Forestry, your MLA or the Premier. The animal rights activists do, and that is why we have been unsuccessful to date.

Join the Federation!