Bear reports keep coming in here

FORT FRANCES—With at least another month to go before the season for wandering bears is over, more and more reports of bruins in town keep coming in, the bylaw enforcement department noted Thursday afternoon.
Bylaw enforcement officer Dave Egan said the number of sightings within town limits is now up to 59.
“It’s been steady,” he remarked, adding so far six bears have been immobilized, two live-trapped, and two had to be killed.
The most recent report was a cub in a tree at a residence on the 500 block of Church Street. OPP officers and town bylaw enforcement officers tranquilized the young bear and relocated it without any problems, said Egan.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, town bylaw enforcement officers found a large male dead at the landfill during a patrol of the site. They’ve been going there regularly to check for bears with tags for monitoring purposes.
“We turned it over to the MNR. They weighed the bear and it was 825 pounds,” noted Egan. “It was big.”
Linda Wall, Rainy Lake area supervisor for the MNR, said it was “an exceptionally large bear” at 89 inches, from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail, in a straight-line measurement.
“It was not unheard of, but certainly a larger bear than normal. He was a dump bear,” she noted, adding that while an autopsy was not done on the animal, it’s cause of death was probably natural, or at least not the result of malice.
Wall said the variety of bears reported so far this year has consisted of an mix of mothers and cubs, yearlings, two- and three-year-olds, and older ones.
“Compared to last year, it’s a little bit different. But over time, it’s been an average year,” she added, referring to the fact that while bear numbers may appear to be up, it’s really only because they’re appearing in town sooner due to the fact the early berry crops dried out quickly this year.
“We went into the fall sooner.”
Egan 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—something which people have been getting better at, noted Egan.
“If people picked up all their apples, and took all the ripe fruit and vegetables out of their gardens, and kept all their garbage out of sight, the bears would move out of town,” stressed Wall.
“Bears only hibernate because they can’t find food,” she added. “Black bears in areas where there’s food year-round don’t hibernate. People forget that.
“They think it’s a must, but it’s only because they can’t get food that they hibernate.
“That’s why they’re driven to eat now.”
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.
People 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 bear sightings 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 (bird feeder, 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)