In light of the recent bear incident downtown earlier this week, SaultOnline reached out to the Ministry of Natural Resources to ask why the bear wasn’t trapped and relocated.
“The ministry does not trap and relocate problem bears, except in exceptional circumstances because trapping and relocating has always been our least effective tool to manage problem bears,” MNRF Sr. Media Relations Officer Jolanta Kowalski told SaultOnline.
“Research confirms that many relocated bears will simply return to the areas from which they were removed. However the Ministry will respond to emergency situations during daylight hours at the request of police.”
What exactly is considered an exceptional circumstance?
Kowalski said the MNRF considers it to be anything called in by police, usually when there is a public safety issue.
She said staff were on their way to the scene to assist police when the bear was shot, but the MNRF “doesn’t second-guess police actions when it comes to public safety.”
The bear in question was shot by Sault Ste. Marie Police Officers when they believed the bear was becoming aggressive after hours on the run in the city’s downtown core. Witnesses of the bear sighting posted several comments on social media that the bear was thin, hungry and scared.
How do we keep the intercity bear problem at bay? Kawalski said that the most important step in minimizing human-bear encounters is to remove any items that attract bears.
“Keeping property free from attractants like garbage and bird feeders makes bears less likely to visit,” she said. “Police can use sirens and MNRF staff and police may also use bear bangers to help move the bear out of urban areas.”
The MNRF also operates a toll-free, 24/7 Bear-Wise reporting line and a bear web page with information on how to avoid problems with bears.