Reports of bears have dou­bled

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - RON GRECH

Most city res­i­dents liv­ing on the wooded out­skirts of Tim­mins are fa­mil­iar with the tell-tale signs that a bear has been by.

The grey trash bin is ly­ing on its side. The shred­ded re­mains of a garbage bag pulled from the bin is close by, its con­tents lit­ter­ing the yard.

Calls to the On­tario Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry in Tim­mins about nui­sance bears more than dou­bled this year com­pared to last year.

“This year from April 1st to date we’ve re­ceived 412 (on the Bear Wise Re­port­ing Line) and we only had 190 last year dur­ing the same time pe­riod,” Karen Pass­more, re­gional out­reach spe­cial­ist with the On­tario Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry in Tim­mins, told The Daily Press.

Poor berry crops are be­ing cited as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

“Berry crops were a lit­tle bit be­low av­er­age com­pared to pre­vi­ous years,” said Pass­more. “It was a re­ally hot, dry sum­mer so we didn’t get a lot of rain. So that would have con­trib­uted to the amount of berries.

“Blue­ber­ries were hit and miss in a lot of ar­eas of the city but crabap­ples are do­ing re­ally, re­ally well. And a lot of those trees are in peo­ple’s yards.”

Pass­more said the onus falls on res­i­dents to avoid pro­vid­ing a smor­gas­bord that would en­tice bears to start for­ag­ing for food in the city neigh­bour­hoods.

“A lot of the calls that we’re get­ting are a re­sult of at­trac­tants be­ing avail­able, like garbage, and fruit on peo­ple’s prop­er­ties … and bears are re­ally at­tracted to fruit trees such as crab-ap­ples so what we like to tell peo­ple is if you have any fruit trees on your prop­erty, make sure to pick fruit off the trees as well as any fallen fruit so it doesn’t rot on the ground. Right now bears are be­ing driven by the need to put on weight be­fore win­ter hi­ber­na­tion so they are ba­si­cally try­ing to top up their fuel tanks.

“Bears are shy and nor­mally afraid of hu­mans. But they are also very in­tel­li­gent an­i­mals and can re­mem­ber ex­actly where they have ac­cessed food, and will re­turn to that lo­ca­tion. There­fore the best way to deal with a prob­lem bear is not to create one in the first place. They will top­ple bird feed­ers, ran­sack bar­be­cues, raid garbage cans and even try to en­ter build­ings. If they learn that they can find food where peo­ple live, bears will re­turn again and again.”

Pass­more said the pres­ence of a bear does not gen­er­ally war­rant a call to po­lice un­less peo­ple feel the an­i­mal poses an im­me­di­ate threat to per­sonal safety.

She said in cer­tain cir­cum­stances po­lice should be called if:

• a bear en­ters a school yard when school is in ses­sion;

• ap­pears to be stalk­ing a per­son;

• en­ters or tries to en­ter a res­i­dence;

• kills live­stock or pets and lingers at the site; or

• wan­ders into a pub­lic gath­er­ing.

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