| May 21, 2009

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OPP Shoot Bear

Donkey meets Grisly Demise

How to avoid encounters with black bears

OPP shoot bear

Unable to leave on its own, this bear was destroyed by OPP.

A bear visited Sydenham on the afternoon of Sunday May 17th, possibly via the Cataraqui Trail, and after eating some birdseed at the mayor’s house, (The mayor was not home at the time) it checked out the back of Foodland.

Then, perhaps disturbed by the number of people watching it, it swam across the bay to behind the township hall, where it eventually climbed a tree. The bear was attracting a lot of attention, and “citizens were concerned about their safety and called the OPP,” said South Frontenac detachment spokesperson Natalie McDowell.

The Ministry of Natural Resources was called but there was concern the bear might hurt someone before the MNR arrived, and “prior to their arrival the bear was destroyed for public safety,” McDowell said.

The South Frontenac Fire Department were the first officials on the scene and they tried to convince people in the vicinity to stay in their homes until the OPP was able to secure the area. According to Fire Chief Rick Cheseborough the bear would likely have left the area of its own accord if the people had stayed away

The incident took place just after 6:00 pm. 

Donkey meets Grisly Demiseby Julie Druker

A black bear drags a pet donkey it killed early Wednesday morning on the Hawley farm near Mountain Grove. Photo courtesy of Wendy Newans

Early Wednesday morning Bob Hawley, who lives on a farm on Dawson Road between Parham and Mountain Grove, made a sad and unfortunate discovery.

A donkey that he had purchased for his future daughter in-law was found killed near his home. It was not until he met up with his tenant, Wendy Newans, that he understood what had happened.

Newans, who rents a house on Hawley’s farm, had been up that morning at 5:30AM, heading to Westport to pick up her two young children and noticed outside her window a large black spot moving. She went outside to get a closer look and recalled, “It was a big full grown bear and it was tugging on whatever it was that he had, which I thought was a deer and he was trying to get it over the fence.” Newans ran back inside and got her camera and was able to take a few pictures. The bear disappeared shortly after.

Hawley figures it’s about an 8 to 10-year-old bear weighing roughly 300-400 lbs and one they have seen around the property before. He noted that they saw a bear two weeks earlier that had pulled a bag of garbage out of the back of his truck.

This is the first time that a bear has taken an animal from the farm. And Hawley has no qualms about shooting the bear the next time that it comes around. Hawley's wife, who loves to walk, is nervous to venture outside. Newans also feels uncomfortable, having two young children.

How to avoid encounters with black bears while enjoying the outdoors

Black bears are nothing like friendly cartoon bears. They are smart, curious, powerful and potentially dangerous. And they don’t like surprises. If you are a hiker, cyclist, jogger, berry picker, or you plan to spend some time in “bear country”, you need to know how bears behave so that you can avoid an encounter.

Bears usually avoid humans. Generally you won’t see a bear even if one is close by. Remember, you are a visitor in the bear’s home range, so do all you can to avoid encounters.

Make noise as you move through wooded areas – especially in areas where background noise is high, such as near streams and waterfalls. Singing, whistling or talking will alert bears to your presence, giving them a chance to avoid you.

Travel with others if possible.

Be aware of your surroundings by keeping your eyes and ears open: do not wear music headphones; keep an eye out for signs of bears, such as tracks, claw marks on trees, flipped-over rocks or fresh bear droppings.

Carry and have readily accessible a whistle or an air horn, and bear spray. Know how to use this spray – practise on a stationary object to get the feel for how the canister sprays, and to know its limitations.

Consider carrying a long-handled axe, particularly if you are in “back country”.

Avoid strong fragrances that may cause a bear to be curious; put any food you are carrying in sealed containers in your pack.

If you are out with a dog, control it. Uncontrolled, untrained dogs may actually lead a bear to you.

While berry picking, occasionally scan your surroundings to check for bears, and rise slowly from your crouched position so you don’t startle any nearby bears. They may not recognize you as a human when you are in a crouched position

If you encounter a bear:

If the bear is not paying any attention to you, slowly and quietly back away while watching the bear to make sure it isn’t following you.

Do not approach the bear to get a better look.

If the bear obviously knows you are there, raise your arms to let the bear know you are a human. Make yourself look as big as possible. Speak in a firm but non-threatening voice while looking at the bear and backing away.

Watch the bear to gauge its reaction to you. Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, providing you don't approach the bear. If a bear huffs, pops its jaw or stomps its paws on the ground, it wants you to back away and give it space.

If a bear closely approaches you, drop any food you are carrying and continue backing up. If the bear continues to try to approach, stand your ground and be aggressive – use your whistle or air horn, yell, stand tall, wave your arms and throw objects.

If a bear keeps advancing and is getting close, continue to stand your ground. Use your bear spray and anything else to threaten or distract the bear – bears will often first test to see if it is safe to approach you.

Do not run or climb a tree. Bears can run faster and climb better than you can.

If the bear makes contact, fight back with everything you have.

If you are concerned, contact the local Ministry of Natural Resources office in the area you are going to visit to determine whether there have been any reports of bear encounters or conflicts.

To report bear problems call 1-866-514-2327 or for TTY 1-705-945-7641. In a life-threatening emergency, call your local police or 911.

For more information, visit our website: ontario.ca/bearwise.

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