Bears are out and about and looking for food

·3 min read

ST. MARY’S – They’re making their presence known this time of the year in places like Sherbrooke and Guysborough; they’re ravenous, ferocious and as black as midnight. No, they’re not ticks.

“Bears are smart and adaptable animals that will search out easily accessible food sources, even in populated areas,” Natural Resources and Renewables (NRR) Minister Tory Rushton said in a statement last week about preventing bear encounters this spring. “Interactions can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous.”

According to NRR, government wildlife biologists and technicians responded to 983 black bear incidents in Nova Scotia last year. But, said some St. Mary’s residents last week, the threat in their neck of the woods this year, so far, remains bearable.

“As of this date we have seen only a couple crossing the No. 7 highway and they were moving quickly,” Sherbrooke’s Neil Black told The Journal.

He added: “In talking with Tom Kaiser at the Sherbrooke Village Inn, he hasn’t seen any to date. Our fire chief Wayne Auton hasn’t had any calls or seen any in his tours around the District of St. Mary’s. But, as noted Sherbrooke area woodsman Jamie Anderson says, do not fool yourself; they are out there … As both a rural resident and chair of Goldenville museum, I am constantly on the lookout for bears.”

He’s not alone.

“I had a bear get into my trash last year,” said St. Mary’s Deputy Warden James Fuller, who is also a volunteer firefighter in the Goshen brigade. “I was very grateful that the bear took the entire load of trash and walked off. But, I went out and bought a better lock for the bin.”

According to NRR, preventing bear encounters is mostly about common sense. “Eliminating bear attractants on your property is the most effective way of reducing the chance of conflict,” Tricia Fleming, a human-wildlife conflict biologist, said in the statement. “Being proactive is an important part of coexistence and animal health and welfare.”

Safety tips include: Regularly cleaning green bins and garbage containers with warm, soapy water; storing containers and bins inside morning collection; freezing meat, fish and other aromatic foods before disposal; burning off barbecues and grills at high heat following use; keeping pet food indoors; adding lime to garden compost piles and turning frequently; removing bird feeders; and picking tree fruit and berries as soon as they ripen.

“We want to work with homeowners to address conflict situations before they become problems so we can reduce the number of encounters and keep people and bears safe,” Fleming said. “We all have a role to play promoting coexistence with wildlife by addressing activities like feeding that put animals at risk.”

Fuller couldn’t agree more. “The bears are going to be hungry for the next month,” he said. “Don’t go out and touch them or bother them. And whatever you do, don’t feed them … I’m not kidding. Some people still do that.”

People who see bears near homes or communities should report the sighting to their local Department of Natural Resources and Renewables office or by calling 1-800-565-2224 after regular business hours.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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