Shooting bears not necessary here: Egan

Despite getting more than 90 reports of black bears in town here over the past month or so, local bylaw enforcement officer Dave Egad told town council Tuesday evening that “dispatching” them with force should remain a last resort.
Egan said the town has tranquilized 12 bears, trapped another two, and, with the OPP, had to dispatch only one this fall.
“There’s some people who think perhaps we should be destroying more,” he noted. “But we have an agreement with the MNR under the ‘Bear Wise’ program.
“Destroying them is the last thing you want to do.”
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig confirmed the town does receive funding from the MNR’s “Bear Wise” program. “We’re one of the few communities that actively tries to relocate bears,” he noted.
Egan noted most bear sightings take place at night, and shooting off a firearm in the dark in a residential neighbourhood is the last thing anyone wants to do.
And he said despite the high number of bear sightings this fall, and the enormous amount of work they’ve caused for Egan, fellow bylaw officer Arlene Byres, the OPP, and MNR, the reality hasn’t been as bad as reported elsewhere despite not using lethal measures.
Firstly, Egan noted the relocated bears are tagged and left in the Turtle River area. “We haven’t had any return. But in some communities, if a tagged bear returns, it is dispatched,” he remarked.
“As a community, I think we’ve been proactive in keeping the bears away from certain situations,” added Egan.
As an example, he noted the bear-proof garbage containers located at expected “trouble spots” around town, such as Pither’s Point, the Legion Park, etc.
“So far, we haven’t seen any tipped over or damaged. They seem to be successful,” said Egan.
He also noted local residents have been quite good about not putting their garbage out too early for pick-up, which in the past has been identified as the reason for 80 percent of bear sightings here.
Byrnes added the bears haven’t been attracted to local businesses or restaurants, either, with the major attraction having been fruit trees.
On behalf of council, Coun. Tannis Drysdale thanked the two bylaw officers for their hard work.
While bear sightings have dropped considerably here as of late, residents with bear complaints still are directed to call the OPP’s communications centre at 1-888-310-1122.

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