05/01/2014 09:16 EDT | Updated 07/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Evidence to support spring bear hunt lacking, biologist says

A Sudbury biologist says he doesn't think a limited spring bear hunt is needed to reduce the bear population in the north.

After years of controversy over the cancellation, the Liberal government announced a limited hunt for this spring, as the minister of natural resources says it will help deal with the number of bear encounters in northern cities.

But Cambrian College biologist Joe Hamr disagrees.

“Maybe they will kill a thousand bears?  So one percent of the population? How is that going to decrease the number of nuisance bears? Where are the other 99 percent going to be?”

Hamr said there's little evidence to indicate the reinstatement of a limited spring bear hunt will reduce problems with nuisance bruins and believes the hunt is more of a political management tool.

“Assumptions that the population has grown are probably not very accurate,” he said.

“The estimates have been around 100,000 bears for the past 30 or 40 years.”

He said he thinks the issue of public safety is being played up to stave off opposition, while at the same time reaching out to northern voters who want the hunt.

The six week hunt in limited areas of the province opens to Ontario residents today.