Groups seek legal remedies to stop re-introduction of the Ontario Spring Bear Hunt.

Organizations say - If the spring bear hunt is not stopped, tiny bear cubs will be orphaned and die from starvation

TORONTO, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Animal Alliance of Canada and Zoocheck Canada are seeking legal remedies to stop the Ontario spring bear hunt and prevent tiny orphaned bear cubs from brutal death by starvation.

On April 14, 2014 the Minister of Natural Resources and Attorney General of Ontario were served with a Notice of Application for Judicial Review and Notice of Constitutional Question on behalf of the two organizations.    David Estrin, a certified environmental law specialist with Gowlings LLP in Toronto, Michael Watson, a Gowlings civil litigation partner and  Brent Arnold, another Gowlings litigator, are the lawyers for the applicants.  Three Justices of the Ontario Divisional Court are scheduled to hear the application April 29, 2014 in Toronto.

Mr. Estrin said that affidavits are being prepared to provide expert evidence about bear cub orphaning and death associated with spring bear hunting, as well as evidence from northern residents and former government staff who experienced previous bear hunts.  He summarized the legal position to be advanced:

 "The Applicants contend that the Minister failed to comply with the MNR's own Statement of Environmental Values and therefore failed to comply with section 11 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, that the Proposal violates the Criminal Code of Canada prohibition on causing cruelty to animals and is therefore illegal and unconstitutional, and the Minister did not apply for or receive approval for this Proposal under the Environmental Assessment Act."

"The spring bear hunt is cruel," said Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck Canada.  "Bears come out of hibernation and are extremely hungry because they have not eaten all winter.  They are attracted to garbage food (fryer oil, rotten meat, and stale donuts) set out in bait piles by hunters who want an assured kill.  One third of these feeding bears are female, many with tiny cubs.   Often the female bears hide the cubs before approaching the bait site or kill zone.  Despite being illegal for hunters to kill female bears with cubs, inevitably it happens and orphaned cubs are left to starve to death."

"The cruelty is amplified by the fact that the spring hunt will not reduce human/bear conflicts, as Ontario bear researchers have shown" Woodyer continued.  "Minister Orazietti  knows that studies done by his own staff show that spring hunts do not reduce human/bear conflicts."

 "We agree with the Minister that public safety for northern residents is crucial, we don't agree that the spring bear hunt is the effective way to do it," said Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance of Canada.  Ms. White concluded, "That's why we have asked the Minister to re-instate and recommit to the entire Bear Wise programme.  In communities like Elliot Lake, where the Bear Wise programme was properly implemented, human bear conflicts dropped dramatically."

SOURCE Animal Alliance of Canada

For further information: To schedule interviews or obtain copies of the Sault Ste Marie bear occurrence data or legal filings, please contact Liz White at 416-809-4371 or liz@animalalliance.ca; Documents are also available on the web sites of Animal Alliance (www.animalalliance.ca) or Zoocheck Canada (www.zoocheck.com)