MNR report lower number of bear sightings this summer 0
If you’ve been in Haliburton this summer, chances are you haven’t come across many bears.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is reporting a lower number of bear sightings in the Haliburton region, which includes Minden and Bancroft.
Stats for this year report there have been 260 bear occurrences to date in 2012, compared to 373 for the same period last year, according to the MNR.
The change is relative to whether or not natural food sources are available within a community.
“When natural food sources are poor, black bears will travel long distances to seek out alternative sources of food. There have been more sightings in areas where non-natural food sources are readily available. For example in areas where people have left pet food or household garbage out,” MNR media official Audrey Tobolka told the paper.
Recent cutbacks to the government’s Bearwise program have resulted in more calls being directed towards local OPP detachments.
Haliburton Highlands acting sergeant Sandy Adams told the paper at the beginning of the summer the OPP did get a number of calls regarding nuisance bears, however, that seems to be leveling off.
“We can expect more, I suppose, towards the fall as the bears begin to forage for food prior to winter,” Adams said.
Throughout Ontario there have been 3,865 bear occurrences this year, many of which are just sightings of bears and can include multiple sightings of the same bear.
Trends show the number of bear occurrences across Ontario have gone down during the past number of years.
In 2009 there were 13,000 occurrences reported by the MNR, compared to 9,888 in 2010 and 6,662 in 2011.
Statistics can always be traced back to whether or not it has been a bad natural food year, which results in an increase in occurrences, said Jolanta Kowalski, senior media relations officer for the MNR.
Nuisance bears are still an MNR responsibility and the public is encouraged to call the toll-free bear reporting line if they come across a bear.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week from April to November, the line is handled by trained MNR staff who can determine the most appropriate response and advice for managing problem bears, said Tobolka.
“The OPP will become involved if there is a public safety issue, such as the bear entering or trying to get into a house or schoolyard, bears that appear not to be afraid of humans around, or a bear who is destroying or who has destroyed property or a domestic animal. This is true for all wild animals, not just bears,” Adams said.
This year the MNR stopped trapping and relocating nuisance bears, as they found it to be the least effective method of dealing with the issue.
“The practice of trapping and relocating nuisance bears was stopped this year because research shows they simply return … Best practice for limiting nuisance bears is to limit attractants,” Tobolka said.
The number for the toll-free bear reporting line is 1-866-514-2327.