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Bear interrupts play at Thunder Bay golf course

Play was halted on two holes because of a bear near the clubhouse

THUNDER BAY — A bear that wouldn't come out of a tree halted play at the Strathcona golf course on Wednesday.

Pat Berezowski, director of golf operations for the city, said the bear climbed a tree close to the clubhouse "and didn't seem to want to come down...He was pretty comfortable up there."

Play was stopped on two nearby holes, and staff at the city-owned course on Hodder Avenue called the provincial Bear Wise reporting line and Thunder Bay Police.

"They felt it was important enough for safety reasons to come and have a look and assess the situation. We were able to scare the bear out of the tree," Berezowski said. "And once he was scared out of the tree we were basically able to scare him off the property and into the bush."

He said he was told that conservation officers prefer not to tranquilize bears unless absolutely necessary.

"Obviously, bears will come back to the location they were at, so if they kind of get scared, that tends to keep them away more than tranquilizing them and bringing them off-site." 

Berezowski said bears are not an unusual sight on the golf course over the course of the season, but "we haven't seen them actually sit up in a tree for an extended period, similar to this one."

The level of concern rises, he said, when the animals are near golfers or close to the clubhouse.

A poor berry crop this year is believed to be contributing to a large increase in nuisance bear calls in the Thunder Bay area and Northwestern Ontario.