Plentiful food last year bodes well for bears

By Carl Clutchey
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

An abundant food supply for black bears last year could explain why some bruins have emerged from their winter dens looking unusually plump this spring, provincial officials say.

“Natural food conditions in the Northwest were excellent (in 2023), so many bears will be coming out of hibernation in better condition than if they had endured poor food conditions last summer and fall,” a Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry spokeswoman said on Friday.

One such bear that was spotted last weekend at Neebing’s Sand Hill Road landfill was so rotund it caused onlookers to wonder if it had even bothered to hibernate.

The ministry spokeswoman suggested it’s more likely the bear just woke up from its winter slumber early.

“With the unseasonably warm temperatures, bears may be emerging early or, in some cases, be flooded out of their dens,” she said.

Meanwhile, the ministry is reminding residents that a bear passing through a backyard, checking out garbage cans or climbing up a tree doesn’t usually constitute an emergency.

Residents are advised to contact police if a bear acts aggressively, kills livestock or lingers in a public place like a school yard.

Non-urgent bear sightings can be reported to the province’s Bear Wise line at 1-866-514-2327.