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DNR reports higher than normal bear sightings in the CBRM.

by CapeBreton.com | posted on July 4th, 2013 | Parks Canada
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The Department of Natural Resources reports higher than normal bear sightings in the CBRM (7 sightings in recent weeks).

A DNR wildlife technician says, in general, "Bears want nothing to do with people and avoid them unless there's an easy source of food." Also, young bears looking to stake out their territory could be responsible, but typically these are "one-off" incidents and the bear would typically return to the woods to do the things bears do.

To be safe, they suggest eliminating anything on your property that would be attractive to an animal. “A bear can smell garbage a mile away."

Their advice: If you encounter a bear, stay calm, ensure the animal is aware of you by making noise, then move away from the area. If you come by one suddenly, leave the animal a route to escape and if he approaches, you could drop something (not food) to distract him then continue to move away.

Remember, we share our Island with these and other animals, so be aware and be safe on your travels.

If You Encounter a Bear

Despite taking precautions, you may still encounter a bear. Remember that bears are complex, intelligent animals and no two encounters are alike. There is no single strategy that will work in each situation, but you can minimize your risk by following these guidelines:

Keep calm. Think ahead; your brain is your best defence against a bear attack. Plan how to respond if you encounter a bear.

Don't run. Bears can easily outrun you. By running you may trigger an attack. Make yourself less vulnerable. Pick up small children and stay in a group.

Give the bear space. Back away slowly and talk in a soft voice. Do not approach the bear or make direct eye contact.

Leave the area or make a wide detour. If you cannot leave, wait until the bear moves out of the way and ensure that it has an escape route.

The bear may approach you or rear up on its hind legs. Bears are often curious. If one stands on its hind legs, it is most likely trying to catch your scent; this is not necessarily a sign of aggression. Back away slowly and talk in a soft voice.

Do not drop food to distract the bear. If the bear receives food, it will have been rewarded for its aggressive behaviour, thereby increasing the likelihood that it will repeat that behaviour again.

Watch for aggressive behaviours. A bear may display aggression by swinging its head from side to side; making vocalizations such as huffs, snorts, whoops, or moans; displaying teeth or claws; jaw popping; swatting at the ground; staring with eye contact; panting; or laying its ears back. These behaviours usually indicate that the bear is stressed, acting defensively and asking for more space. Attacks rarely follow. This is the most common kind of black bear aggressive encounter.

Learn more at Parks Canada