Long vilified by environmentalists, the spring bear hunt is poised to return to being a regular event in Ontario, following a five-year pilot project that didn’t cause the bruins and their cubs to be wiped out.

Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski said Friday the province is ready to embark on a series on consultations with the aim of making the hunt permanent.

“Ontario is home to a healthy bear population,” Yakabuski said in a news release.

“The province will continue to monitor black bear populations, harvesting results and sustainability indicators to inform an annual review, and ensure bear populations are managed sustainably,” Yakabuski added.

Though estimates put the province’s overall bear population as high as 105,000, MNRF officials have determined that the big animals have experienced a decline in the area of the Bruce Peninsula in southern Ontario.

Bear hunting is to be restricted in that region, even if a regular spring hunt returns, the province says.

The spring pilot hunt, which has run from May 1 to June 15 since 2014, was introduced under the Liberal government on a trial basis.

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