Black Bear Hunting in Saskatchewan, Canada

Earlier in the week, there was a ‘black bear hunt prize in Saskatchewan, Canada’ prize offered by Bear Down Outfitters – the relevant facebook page has now disappeared, but had some 600 likes before its demise.

It got me looking at the whole issue of black bear hunting in Saskatchewan, with some surprising results.

I looked at the Saskatchewan Wildlife Management, Report 2013 -14. The population ‘count’ of black bears changed in 2014:

During 2014 black bear populations were monitored based on reports from hunters, ministry staff and from crop and bee-yard damage compensation data provided by SCIC. It is planned to initiate a hunter harvest survey for bear in 2015.”

The Report 2013 -14 (p58 -63) has no data on bear harvest numbers after 2010/11 – Saskatchewan resident hunters (licenses) have risen from 1,954 (2006) to 4,153 (2014), ‘harvesting’ 895 bears in 2009, but no harvest data after 2009 – why?

Non-resident hunter licences were around 1,651 (2014), with some 1,074 bears taken in 2010 by 1,439 non-resident hunter license holders, but no bear harvest data after 2010 – again why?

So, with the “hunter harvest survey for bear in 2015” (results still due it seems) we have an example of a proposed population estimate (some algorithm) being based on how ‘successful’ (ie. easy) it has been for hunters to “harvest” bears. The logic being, the easier it is to kill a bear, the more bears there must be, right? The results for the 2015 hunters’ survey are not available (yet), only 2014 results are available on the web-site, but even this does not include black bears (?).

There appears to be a big hole in bear harvest data from 2010/11 to 2015 (and black bear population data). So how does the Saskatchewan Wildlife Management department know how many black bears it might be safe to harvest in the 2016 season? Or are they keeping the data a secret, or basing their judgements on “anecdotal evidence” only?

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Management Report 2013 -14 (page 61) report concludes:

Based on anecdotal evidence collected during the period it appears that bear populations were generally stable or increasing. Increases were mainly reported in the east-central and southeast areas.”

So the hunters and authorities must know what they are doing, right?

[Update] The latest available (web-site/public)  Saskatchewan Wildlife Management Report 2017,” table 23, Non-resident black bear data could be described at best as ‘sketchy.’ Page 61 of the same report states that a long term objective is to assess black bear population trends. I can find no further public information/updates if any such population assessment has been made or is planned (where accurate population data is clearly essential for any hunting sustainability claims of course).

2 thoughts on “Black Bear Hunting in Saskatchewan, Canada

  1. Joelle says:

    Sadly I live in Saskatchewan and last year they killed 2000 bears and because of Covid restrictions not allowing American big game hunters in the province the outfitters are complaining that means there is 2000 extra bears running around threatening people. It’s absurd and I can’t find any anti bear hunting organizations in Saskatchewan. It seems no one in my province cares and that’s extremely sad. We used to be home to the plains grizzly and that went extinct years ago. Seems camping without bears and the money hunting brings in is more important than preserving wildlife and natural habitat.


    1. internationalwildlifebond1 says:

      Joelle, Thank you for the comment and update – the article is from 2016, so your current, on the ground insight is valuable. Wildlife is often managed by hunters, for hunters (and the industry income) – where scientific foundation and transparency is often clearly lacking. It’s good that you care and one would hope there are like minded individuals that also seek transparency when it comes to bear hunting in Saskatchewan…..I’ll see if I can find any contacts that might be of value. In the meantime, keep hoping the bears are enjoying the lack of the American big game fraternity on their home turf!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s