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Bear season ‘slow to average’ here this year

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With more and more leaves on the ground than on trees, and autumn’s chill in the air, bears are making their last walkabout prior to tucking in for the winter—wrapping up what amounted to “a slow to average” season for bruin activity here in Fort Frances, bylaw enforcement officer Arlene Byrnes said yesterday.

Byrnes said the most recent bear reports have come from the east end of town, where a large bear has been sighted but is not causing trouble.

“He doesn’t seem to want to go to bed,” she added. “I guess it’s a fairly large bear—I haven’t seen it yet, it seems to like nighttime walking.”

Byrnes noted that since late May-early June, the town bylaw enforcement/animal control department received a total of 38 bear reports—up from last year’s 22, but a far cry from the 77 in 2006 and 94 in 2005.

Of these 38, only two bears had to immobilized and relocated, and none had to be destroyed.

Byrnes said the majority of the activity was in late August and September. “We’re getting into the quiet time now,” she explained.

She noted the level of bear activity from year to year tends to run on a cycle, with this year being nothing like it was a few years ago.

“We had a good berry crop this year, and natural food was abundant for them,” said Byrnes. “They didn’t really need to come to town that often.”

In recent years, the town and Ministry of Natural Resources have made efforts to better educate the public on taking precautions to avoid attracting nuisance bears, such as taking down their bird feeders or stop filling them for the time being, making sure there’s no pet food left lying around the yard, cleaning their barbecue after use, and waiting to put their garbage bags and containers out until the morning of collection instead of the night before.

While local residents generally have become more conscientious of attracting bears to their neighbourhood, Byrnes said almost invariably when the town gets a call about a bear loitering on someone’s property, it’s because they’ve gotten into their garbage the night before collection day.

If you spot a bear, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or call the “Bear Wise” hotline at 1-866-514-2327.

Residents also can call the Civic Centre to report bear problems at 274-5323.

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