Residents urged to be mindful of bears

Matt Gardner
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The provincial government is reminding the public to be wary of bears while enjoying the outdoors this summer.

Prince Albert Daily Herald

While a similar warning is issued each year, this week’s release follows an incident in La Ronge last week in which a man was charged and chased by a bear.

Conservation officer Rich Hildebrand of the Ministry of the Environment said that no one was harmed in the incident.

“Most bears … are cautious around humans and it’s rare that they charge or chase a human,” Hildebrand said.

“It’s not a normal circumstance we run into,” he added. “But we just felt that it was time to get it out.”

Saskatchewan has an estimated bear population of 30,000 animals, which are distributed across the province in parkland areas, forests and islands.

Most of that population -- which Hildebrand described as “fairly stable” -- can found in the forested northern regions, with La Ronge alone reporting 35 different bear sightings so far this year.

“It’s just part and parcel with this time of year,” Hildebrand said, noting that the late spring may have made bears hungrier than usual.

“The berry season hasn’t really gotten going yet,” he added. “So the bears are wandering around trying to find a food source and especially this time of year, the younger bears are trying to find their own territory as well.”

A common occurrence is for bears to wander through campgrounds, making proper food storage, cooking methods and garbage handling essential for safe camping.

Residents should never feed or approach a bear or bear cubs, since bears that have been fed lose their natural fear of humans and may become a recurring nuisance and/or a potential danger.

The bears are wandering around trying to find a food source and especially this time of year, the younger bears are trying to find their own territory as well. Rich Hildebrand

Should one encounter a bear, they should calmly back away, speak in low tones and avoid looking directly at the bear.

One should never run -- since a human cannot outrun a bear – but rather should move towards a large structure such as a tree or rock.

As a last resort, dropping one’s bag or backpack may distract the bear. In most cases, black bears will not attack. But if attacked, a person should defend him or herself and not “play dead.”

While at campgrounds, campers should never cook or eat inside their tents. Food should be stored in air-tight containers in the trunk of a vehicle, not in tents or tent-trailers.

Campers should never leave garbage, scraps or pet food lying around, but should place all garbage in provided containers. Scraps should not be burned or buried. Fish should be cleaned only at designated fish-cleaning stations.

Pets should be kept on a leash or inside a vehicle at all times, since an unleashed dog can easily aggravate a bear.

Finally campers should use a flashlight after dusk and avoid moving around the campsite at night unless necessary.

Anyone who finds themselves in a potentially dangerous situation involving a bear should contact their local conservation office or call the T.I.P. line at 1-800-667-7561 or from their cell 24 hours a day at #5555.

Organizations: Ministry of the Environment

Geographic location: La Ronge, Saskatchewan

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