Beware of Bears!

About three weeks ago, I was sitting in my living room while Aria slept on me. Tom came in with my mom and asked me if I had a visitor: someone big, black, and furry. I wondered whose dog got loose, but when Tom clarified that he meant a bear, I was in disbelief.
A cub, maybe 2 years old, found his way into my kitchen and took a package of hamburger buns. He left my home and ate his snack on the hill in my yard, where Tom and my mom found him. The door to my home was open and the buns that were on my table were missing. Sneaky bear!

I wasn’t afraid and didn’t feel threatened, but it would have been completely different had the bear decided to explore my home. I’m not sure what I would have done had he came into my living room where I was sitting with my 3 month old baby.

We have had a few visitors since then and this past Saturday we caught a bear in action. It was just after midnight. Tom and I were still up when we heard noise coming from outside, so we went to investigate. The biggest bear I have ever seen was trying to get into our porch! He knocked the window and screen out of our door and was standing with his head through the door. He managed to squeeze through a small opening and we ran to the kitchen to get a closer look at him. He was at least 400 lbs and took up most of the porch! He grabbed a bag of garbage and went out the door, made himself comfortable on my front lawn and ate his meal. He came back into the porch two more times, and by the third time, the door was demolished. The bear could have easily gotten into our house if he wanted to! We knocked on the window to try to scare him away but our presence didn’t phase him.

I have lived in Larder Lake my entire life. It’s a small town in Northern Ontario. We are surrounded by bush and wildlife, but bears have never been a problem before last year. These bears aren’t typical bears either; they don’t fear humans!

The bears roam freely looking for food, and while they don’t pose an immediate danger to humans (as black Bears aren’t carnivores), they can attack if they feel threatened. I am concerned for the safety of the residents of Larder Lake, especially our children. Bears are wild animals and are unpredictable. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, as as a grieving mother I know that tragedies do happen!

Parents aren’t allowing their children to go out alone and are keeping their pets indoors. We have been in our backyard while a bear has run through the yard. Bears have shown up at playgrounds while our children were playing! A bear has been sleeping behind a vacant house across the street from us. They aren’t just coming here to eat, they are sleeping here too!

When we see a bear, we are told to report it to BearWise (who offer suggestions on how to keep bears away, things we are already doing) and report it to the police. If there is an immediate threat, such as a bear in your home, we are to call 9-1-1. Since residents are not seeing any action resulting from these phone calls, people aren’t calling as often as they should or reporting every encounter which makes it seem much less of an issue than it really is. Phone calls to the Ministry of Natural Resources have been just as useful. I sent photos to CTV News on Monday and a reporter was at my house the next day. The MNR were in town setting a trap while the reporter was in town because they were aware CTV was doing a story about it! They should have been here long before that!

I don’t know what’s causing our bear problem but believe an increase in population to be the major issue. The Government is piloting a spring bear hunt project to see if this will help, but this will take years before we see a difference. Deforestation is likely causing the bears to move in closer, and although it isn’t common, people have been feeding bears. In fact, we attended a live animal presentation in our community earlier this month and the presenter stated that it isn’t a problem to feed bears (not exactly a responsible thing to say in a community where there is an abundance of bears). Authorities discourage people from feeding them as it can cause bears to come into town looking for food. It’s also teaching them not to fear us!

I almost hit a large bear on my way to town today as he ran across the highway in front of my car. I have seen many bears on the side of the road, but have never come so close to hitting one. Our community needs a solution before someone gets hurt. Shortly after the MNR set the trap, a cub was caught and relocated. The trap was set again but I’m not sure if any more bears were caught and relocated. Bears tend to find their way back, so we will wait and see what happens in the weeks to come.

Click HERE to watch the CTV News segment from Tuesday. I was also interviewed by Evan Solomon on News Talk Radio in Ottawa, but I don’t know how to access the interview. Please share your thoughts on the issue and send prayers to keep us safe until the situation is resolved.

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