Black Bear

We do live in bear country, although they are not always visible. We had a reminder of that recently when a young bear decided to investigate one of the garbage boxes, in broad daylight, along North Shore Road in the East Basin of Loughborough Lake. Probably most of the long term residents of Loughborough Lake have heard of bear sighting incidents at one time or another. They may have also seen them. Typically this does not happen often although there is some evidence that sightings may be increasing. A story that was reported in the Whig Standard in 2010 talked of sightings that year in Bath and the north and west end of Kingston. The Whig Standard stated: "Ministry officials do not think the bear population is expanding. Instead, they suggest development encroaching on traditional bear habitat is at the root of the increased number of sightings.

"As development continues, people are bound to have more interaction with bears," said Jamie Prentice, of the MNR.

A bear nosing around a berry patch in the back 40 of a farm might not be worthy of note; one poking around a suburban garage is. Supporting the theory is the fact that many of the bears being seen are young and are opportunistic eaters rather than skilled hunters.

"Yearling bears ... are moving away from the sow -- their mother -- for the first time," Prentice said, "so it's not unusual to see them out and about looking for an easy feed."

This appeared to be the case in this instance. The bear tried unsuccessfully to enter the garbage bin from the hinge side - this was a slightly stronger than normal box, being clad in metal - and then resorted to overturning the bin and getting at the garbage that spilled out. Several nearby residents spotted the bear, and in a couple of cases, people delayed their morning commute to come back and get cameras or neighbours to witness the event. One neighbour was walking her small dog, off leash, towards the end of the lane and the garbage bin and bear. Fortunately she spotted the animal before her dog and was able to leash the dog and reverse course without incident.

It doesn't take too long before the novelty of the situation wears off and the realization occurs that there could be a problem. The following is from the Ontario MNR website on Bearwise:

"Most problems between black bears and humans occur when bears are attracted by the smell of and rewarded with an easy meal. When bears pick up a scent with their keen noses, they will investigate it - even at your cottage property. If bears are rewarded with feasts of bird food, garbage or pet food, they will return as long as the food source continues to be available. It takes all cottagers working together to eliminate these attractants and to stop bear problems."

They go on to recommend that garbage be put in containers with tight fitting lids and only put it out on garbage day and not earlier. Use bear resistant containers. Do not store garbage in plywood boxes (which make up most of the lane way garbage bins), old freezers or vehicles. They even recommend that if you are leaving cottage country on a day that is not garbage day then take your garbage home with you.

In case of nuisance bears contact 1-866-514-2327 or in the case of an emergency contact 911.