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People urged to take precautions with bears

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With the approach of fall, area residents can probably expect to see bears nosing around their backyards. But just how many bruins pay a visit depends largely on the precautions taken by homeowners.

An increase in bear sightings have been reported in the McIrvine Road and Eighth Street areas of Fort Frances of late, and live traps have been deployed in both places.

But there haven’t been any takers yet.

“Obviously there must be enough in people’s yards right now or in the surrounding areas because the bears are not being lured into the traps,” said Dave Egan, bylaw enforcement officer for Fort Frances.

“People have to be more cautious," he warned. ”They have to get in the habit of not leaving their garbage out in the open.

“And try to get as much grease off the barbecue, as well. They like to go for that,” he said, adding bird feeders and fruit trees also are favourite targets for hungry bears.

Egan issued this advice along with a serious note on just how troublesome a bear got for one homeowner recently.

“We did have one incident where one bear did have to be shot by a resident as [it] was acting in an aggressive manner, wanting to come through the screen door,” he said.

But on that note, Egan also stressed that, in all cases, residents within town limits must call the Fort Frances OPP if they sight a bear wandering near their property.

“[The OPP] will follow the [correct] course of action but they have to notified first. That’s the way the protocol is,” he noted.

“They will take the appropriate action, whether it’s a situation where a life is in danger or if they need to have [the bear] tranquilized or just trapped,” he added.

OPP officers are authorized to shoot and kill a dangerous bear while the Ministry of Natural Resources is still providing tranquilization and removal services of bears within town limits.

The OPP detachment here confirmed late last week that no bears had been shot by officers, nor were they aware of any requests for necessary MNR services.

Meanwhile, if a bear is sighted outside town limits, removal is at the hands of Emo resident James O’Sullivan, who works part-time in nuisance animal control.

He’s had about nine bears to deal with in the past few weeks, all of which were removed with the help of live traps.

“Most have been in the east end of the district but a few of been west of Fort Frances in the Crozier area,” said O’Sullivan, a paramedic with the Emo ambulance service.

He noted most of the residents who call him about wandering bears have waited about three days after the first sighting, having gone through the steps of removing garbage and other attractions from their property.

Bears trapped by O’Sullivan in the east end of the district are transported 30 km up the Dryden highway while those from the west end are taken up Highway 71 towards Nestor Falls.

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