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VIDEO: That time of year: Bear sightings start emerging

MNR has had four calls so far, no more than last year, says spokesperson
As COVID-19 continues to change the way people live their lives, wildlife will likely carry on as normal, with perhaps more movement through areas where people would normally gather, said the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Some of those areas, such as open spaces, will have clearings where vegetation (grasses) will grow that might attract deer, geese or bears, said MNR spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski.

It is unlikely the pandemic and the current legislation to help prevent the spread of the virus will change habits of bears in the long-term, though.

“Bears and other wildlife will quickly learn to avoid those areas again when the presence of humans returns, provided attractants are managed properly,” said Kowalski.

Sabrina MacDonald, who lives near Centennial Arena, said she was surprised by a visiting bear late on April 14.

At about 11 p.m., she said she heard a noise and thought someone was on her roof.

“We got out of bed and looked out the window and saw a shadow — no bear, just a green bin,” MacDonald told Sudbury.com. “Then we started looking out all of our windows and saw tracks.”

It appeared as if the bear came back three different times, judging by the tracks. It tore up the insides of the bin before it hopped the fence into their neighbour’s yard to rummage through their garbage, MacDonald said.

“We haven’t seen any (bears) in our neighbourhood before, but have been told they do venture around here,” MacDonald said. “We set up cameras this winter, and we were super surprised to have caught him.”

Days earlier, a resident of the Flour Mill posted to Facebook a photo of a rather large black bear that seemed to be resting in her yard.

Sudbury.com reached out for comment, but has yet to hear back from the resident.

On April 13, the resident said she went outside to take down her bird feeder, and when she went to inspect her tree, the bear “roared” to alert her. She said the ground vibrated when the bear roared.

“Wow, what a way to wake up,” she said in her post. “Good thing I have a strong heart.”

 A bear’s life revolves around food, said Kowalksi. When they are not hibernating, bears spend most of their time looking for something to eat. 

Black bears waking up from hibernation are faced with a scarcity of natural food sources, leading them to look for food in garbage cans and bird feeders.

“Managing attractants, as she did by removing the birdfeeder, is the best way to avoid human-bear encounters,” said Kowalski. “Just don’t do it if the bear is still there.”

For Sudbury district, the Bear Wise Reporting Line has received four calls to date. This is the exact amount of calls received for the same time period in 2019.

You can prevent bears from visiting your home and neighbourhood by storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids, and keep garbage stored in a bear-proof environment like a sturdy shed, garage or basement until garbage day.

Residents should be putting out garbage only on the morning of pickup, and should be putting away bird feeders for the spring (you can offer birds natural alternatives, such as flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water).

Residents should be cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use and keeping pet food indoors.