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Black bear spotted, vanishes, reappears

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A young black bear was spotted in Brockville’s north end Friday morning, vanished just as quickly as it appeared, then popped up again in the general area later Friday afternoon.

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Brockville police received numerous reports about a young bear in the area of Peden Boulevard, Windsor Drive, Laurier Boulevard and Duke Street around 6 a.m. Friday.

The last spot the bear was located, for a few hours at least, was in the Dana Street/Windsor Drive area – relatively close to the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area – which led police to presume it was heading for the Back Pond.

“We have not received any further sightings since this morning,” Cst. April Muldoon later said in an email.

“I presume it has made (its) way to the bush, but cannot confirm.”

She had, however, spoken a bit too soon. Late Friday afternoon Muldoon took to Twitter to report another sighting.

“The bear has been spotted again near St. John Bosch church. Please be diligent and stay away and contact us if you see it,” she wrote.

Residents of the area were advised to keep an eye out for the cub and presume it is still out there looking for its mother. Being vigilant means watching children when they’re playing outdoors and keeping all garbage and food sources inside and away from wildlife, police added.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) was called to help capture the animal if necessary, but the agency “did not attend,” Muldoon said.

Anyone who spots a bear at any time is asked to avoid it, seek safety and call Brockville police at 613-342-0127.

Ontario’s “Bear Wise” – a program established in 2004 to provide useful tips and information about what to do when spotting a bear – says when the wild animals are caught off-guard, they are stressed and usually just want to flee.

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People should stop and remain calm.

Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, provided one does not approach it. The noise is meant to “scare” people off and acts as a warning signal.

People should slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave. If the bear does not leave, throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or air horn. Bang pots and pans together to scare it off.

People should prepare to use bear spray or, if near a building or vehicle, get inside as a precaution.

Officials warn people not to run, climb a tree or swim, since “a bear can do these things much better than you.”

Residents are advised to call 911 or local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as stalking people and lingering at the site; entering or trying to enter a residence; wandering into a public gathering; or killing pets or livestock, then lingering at the site.

This type of sighting, although relatively rare in city limits, has become increasingly more common in recent years, according to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

A grassroots organization with “a mandate to support fish and wildlife conservation,” the OFAH says when the province cancelled the spring bear hunt in 1999, this had many consequences, including an increase in human-bear encounters.

Ontario has an estimated black bear population of 85,000 to 105,000 – the second largest in North America, according to the MNRF.

In order to manage the recent surge in population, the province announced a permanent return of the spring hunt, which will now run annually from May 1 to June 15 starting in 2021 after a five-year pilot run.

OFAH says the spring bear hunt is a sustainable wildlife management activity, and something that will help keep population levels in check and reduce human-bear encounters.

The contact number for the MNRF is 1-866-514-2327 for reported sightings.

sbedford@postmedia.com

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