Polar bears damage snowmobiles, hot tub as they get early start on trek north

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ST. ANTHONY, N.L. — East Coast polar bears have begun their annual trek north early, and despite a plethora of sightings police say they’ve been relatively trouble-free — give or take a damaged snowmobile or hot tub.

People in southern Labrador and along Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula are being cautioned to be on the lookout for the bears, who have begun to move north after following the ice and seals south this winter.

RCMP Cpl. Shane Clarke says for the most part the bears have been well-behaved but have torn-up some snowmobile seats and destroyed a hot tub.

He says spring seems to be arriving early this year, so the bears are passing through earlier than usual.

He said there have been five bears in the St. Anthony area, while provincial officials say they have also been spotted in Great Brehat, St. Carol’s, Roddicton and Griquet.

There have also been pictures posted to social media of polar bears near Red Bay, Labrador.

Clarke says people need to use common sense and not try to get close to the bears to take pictures.

“Usually this will occur in April and May when we’ll see a few polar bears, but regarding March, this has been an unusual high number of polar bears for the area this time of year,” said Clarke.

“For the most part we just ask that the public give them space and leave them alone and they will resume their way north back home.”

Clarke said if you do have an encounter with a bear, you should quietly back away “and never get between a mama and her cubs.”

The Canadian Press