Bear calls flooding in

FORT FRANCES—With bear season in full swing early this year, the Town of Fort Frances bylaw department continues to receive a high number of reports of bear activity within town limits.
“Right now, we’ve got 44 sightings reported to us,” bylaw enforcement officer Dave Egan said Thursday. “It’s going to be a very busy season.”
Egan noted most of the bears so far have been solitary, with the sole exception of a sow and two cubs that had to be immobilized this past Sunday.
As well, unlike past years, many of the bears in town have been full-grown adults, not the yearlings commonly seen before.
Five bears have had to be immobilized to date while two in the past week have had to be shot and killed, added Egan.
He said the most recent was a 405-pound bruin that refused to leave the Shevlin wood yard early Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, around midnight on Sunday, a 245-pound adult male had to be taken down at a Kerr Place residence, where the bear had made its way onto a deck.
Authorities were fearful it would go into the home through the patio doors.
In addition to actual sightings, there also has been clear evidence of bear activity in town, whether it be droppings or garbage cans tipped over and plundered.
“It appears they’re coming for the fruit trees and the garbage,” said Egan. “We’re finding this a little early for this activity to be occurring but, of course, the bush is dry—there’s nothing there for them now.”
He noted one of the key precautions residents should take is to only put out their garbage on the day of collection (not the night before or earlier).
If they can’t keep it in their house prior to that, they should keep it in their garage or other closed place. Or if they don’t have a garage, ask their neighbour if they can share theirs.
Residents also should remember to pick all ripe fruit off trees, and remove vegetables and fallen fruit from the ground.
Other tips to prevent bears from staying in the area, and ensuring public safety at the same time, include:
•Do not leave pet food outdoors;
•Thoroughly clean outdoor grills after use;
•Fill bird feeders only through the winter months;
•Do not put meat, fish, or sweet food (including fruit) in your composter;
•Don’t compost with open containers;
•Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage pick-up day;
•Clean up any garbage in your yard;
•Ensure dumpster lids are closed; and
•Leave the bears alone—remember, they’re wild and highly unpredictable.
Users always should be cautious of bears when disposing garbage at the town landfill site. Residents also are urged not to go there just to see the bears.
Residents with bear complaints are directed to call the OPP’s communications centre (1-888-310-1122) or, during weekdays only, the town’s bylaw office (274-5323, ext. 255).
They also can report the bear sighting to the MNR’s “Bear Wise” hotline at 1-866-514-2327.
When reporting a bear, complainants should be prepared to provide the following information:
•the location of the bear;
•number of times the bear has been sighted;
•time(s) of day the bear is sighted;
•possible attractants in area (birdfeeder, garbage, etc.); and
•what, if any, property damage occurred.
After a report is made, a bylaw officer and/or police may attend the scene, depending on the circumstances.
Authorities then either will deploy a live trap, immobilize, and remove the bear, or destroy it if necessary.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)