Committee formed to deal with Sudbury’s nuisance bear problem after 2,000 sightings

Garbage bear

It’s been an unbearable summer in Sudbury.

The city has been plagued by nuisance bears, resulting in 2,200 reports to the the Ministry of Natural Resources, and 1,700 complaints to the police. In response, city officials have set up a special committee tasked with solving the bear problem.

The committee, which includes police officers, members of the ministry, environmentalists, and one individual who has a PhD in the history of bears, has already held three meetings since forming last month. While this may sound a little extreme, so are the numbers. Sudbury accounted for half of Ontario’s bear-related complaints this year, eating up 225 hours of police time.

Beyond being a waist of public services, there’s also concern that the dramatic uptick in bear encounters could lead to someone being harmed. Nobody was injured this year but officials warn that a run-in with a bear could always turn violent.

“You don’t know what kind of a day the bear’s having,” Councillor Al Sizer, a member of the committee, told CTV News. “I mean, if it’s having a toothache and it encounters somebody, it may not be real friendly.”

Police were dispatched 500 times this year to deal with bears that posed a threat to the public, and they were forced to kill eight.

The committee has already determined that a poor blueberry crop left bears searching for alternative food sources, which they found all too easily by scavenging for human food. Their next task is figuring out how to cut the bears off from this resource.