Ontario Government Signs Protocol With Police About Bears

Archived Release

Ontario Government Signs Protocol With Police About Bears

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Agreement Supported by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, April 26 - The Ontario government is making communities in bear country safer and stronger through a new protocol with the Ontario Provincial Police about responding to bear problems, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today. "I'm very pleased we've reached this agreement clarifying that police will respond to bear problems that pose an immediate public safety threat," said Ramsay. "This will help the public know who to call when dealing with bear problems, and should help ease the minds of people living in bear country." The protocol signed today clarifies roles and responsibilities around responding to human-bear problems. Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will respond to emergency bear calls and will call the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for assistance if necessary. MNR will respond to non-emergency bear calls. The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), which represents municipal police agencies and the OPP, supports the protocol and will encourage member forces to use it as a template to reach agreements with municipal forces. "This is an important community safety issue for many of the communities we serve, particularly in Northern Ontario," said OACP President Chief Ean Algar. "We are pleased that by working with the Ontario government, we have been able to put in place a process that will ensure the safety of Ontarians when dealing with a nuisance bear." "The new protocol will help the OPP improve upon the safety of people who are placed in danger by bears," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Maurice Pilon. "Every bear incident is different and by providing a coordinated approach to assessing each situation and potential response, we can also act in the best interests of our human and bear population." Today's announcement is the next step in the province's Bear Wise program. The key elements of Bear Wise are reporting, response, prevention, and education and awareness. People can call 1-866-514-BEAR (2327) toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the bear season with non-emergency bear problems. "By strengthening the communities in which we live, we are providing people with a quality of life that is second to none," said Ramsay. Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- PROVINCE SIGNS PROTOCOL WITH POLICE ON RESPONSE TO HUMAN-BEAR CONFLICTS The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have signed a protocol clarifying roles and responsibilities around responding to problems between humans and bears. The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) supports the protocol and will encourage member forces to use it as a template to reach agreements with municipal forces. - The Ministry of Natural Resources has agreed to do the following: - provide a toll-free telephone number operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week that the public can call to report bear problems with a coordinated response for calls for assistance; - provide information to police officers to assist them in assessing the situation and the potential response; - provide non-lethal options of dealing with bear incidents, such as chemical immobilization, trapping and aversion conditioning; - be available to assist police where there is an immediate risk to anyone and assist the police in dispatching a bear if needed when there is no other safe remedy; - introduce a public awareness and education program about preventing conflicts with bears and improving safety during bear encounters; and - provide a coordinated media response in cooperation with the police services. - The Ontario Provincial Police have agreed that: - police agencies will provide first response to bear calls that pose an immediate public safety threat; - police may dispatch the bear, if there are no other safe alternatives following recommended procedures; - police will assist MNR staff/agents during chemical immobilization of bears by securing the area and providing armed support; - police will keep a record of any calls for assistance related to conflicts with bears; - police will support MNR in delivering a public education program on bear awareness and conflict prevention; and - police will work with MNR to provide a coordinated media response for specific incidents and to keep the public apprised of any safety issues, such as the location of traps and high incident areas. Disponible en fran├žais bears.mnr.gov.on.caFor further information: Media contacts only: Ginette Albert, Minister's Office, (416) 314-2212; Joe Couto, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, (416) 926-0424; Superintendent Bob Goodall, Ontario Provincial Police, (705) 329-7586; Craig Greenwood, Ministry of Natural Resources, (705) 642-1950