Black bears on the prowl

Duane Hicks

Black bears aren’t expected to go into hibernation for at least another month, and right now are on the prowl to fatten up before their winter-long rest.
Local bylaw enforcement/animal control officer Arlene Byrnes noted Monday that 30 nuisance bears have been reported this year, including nine over the past week alone.
“They have increased,” she remarked. “It seemed like it turned Sept. 1, and poof, they started coming.”
Just last week, two bears were live-trapped off Eighth Street and relocated while a third was immobilized on Riverview Drive.
Most of the recent reports have been in the north end of town, whether off Eighth Street or along the bush line near Patcin Avenue and Kaitlyn Drive, noted Byrnes, although some have been sighted in the central and western parts of town.
Byrnes said the bear reports are coming in “right on time,” and that the bylaw enforcement department certainly expects to get more between now and until at least mid-October.
At this rate, bear reports might end up being more numerous than last year.
By the time bears started going into hibernation last October, the town had received a total of 32 reports (the last report of 2009 was on Oct. 18).
Byrnes said some of the recent reports have included evidence of bears getting into people’s garbage and “blue boxes.”
She stressed the best tip for residents to avoid attracting bears to their property is to put their garbage and recyclables out on the morning of pick-up day—not the night before or earlier.
As well, apples and acorns are falling from the trees, making for an easy snack.
“They’re looking for the fruit, acorns,” Byrnes explained. “The one bear we immobilized was in an acorn tree, just eating away.”
Byrnes said those with these types of trees can pick up the apples and so forth off the ground right now, instead of leaving them as a bear attractant.
Other measures that can be taken to help prevent bears from staying in the area include:
•not leaving pet food outdoors;
•thoroughly cleaning outdoor grills after use;
•discontinuing to fill bird feeders for the time being;
•not putting meat, fish, or sweet food (including fruit) in your composter;
•not composting with open containers;
•keeping meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day;
•cleaning up any garbage in your yard; and
•ensuring dumpster lids are closed.
The public also is reminded to leave the bears alone as they’re wild and highly unpredictable.
Residents are asked to report bear sightings by calling the Ministry of Natural Resources’ “BearWise” hotline at 1-866-514-2327 or the local bylaw department (274-5323 during business hours).
If the matter is urgent and there is any potential danger, residents are directed to call the OPP’s communications centre at 1-888-310-1122, not the local detachment or the town.
When reporting a bear, complainants should be prepared to provide the following information:
•the location of the bear;
•number of times it has been sighted;
•time(s) of day it is sighted;
•possible attractants in area (birdfeeders, 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 continue to receive and monitor the reports of the nuisance bear, deploy a live trap, immobilize and remove the bear, or destroy it if necessary.