Adding a whole new meaning to “nosy neighbour,” black bear sightings in the Greater Toronto Area are on the rise.
According to reports, black bears have been in close contact with humans in Aurora, Milton, and Pickering this year. The Ministry of Natural Resources says there have been nearly 700 bear occurrences and encounters this summer alone in Ontario.
Bear encounters are usually only a problem for northerners, but when there’s a bad harvest and their food sources are scarce, bears tend to migrate south towards the GTA.
Just one month ago, a 42-year-old man and his dog were attacked by a black bear while camping in an Ontario provincial park, and last year in Burlington, police shot and killed a wandering, “nuisance” bear.
New Democrat MPP John Vanthof says the provincial government should reinstate the “trap and relocate” program that was axed due to budget cuts last summer. At the moment, if a person is in danger, they’re forced to defend themselves or call a 1-800 number.
Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti says the government continues to operate the Bear Wise program, which prevents contact between humans and bears, and has also extended the fall bear hunt.
To prevent bears from wandering onto your property, the Ministry recommends storing garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and putting your garbage out on the morning of collection (because we all know bears cannot resist the wafting smell of sticky, hot garbage), clean outdoors grill after each use, and keep bird feeders up only during the winter months.
Meanwhile in British Columbia, there have been fewer problem bear calls this summer. WildSafe BC reports 24 percent fewer calls about nuisance bears and conservation officers in Kamloops and North Vancouver report they received about 50 percent fewer calls than last year. These statistics also mean that 30 percent fewer bears were shot this year.