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UPDATED: Nuisance bear calls almost triple those of last year

Biologists blame the situation on a number of factors.
black bear in wild
(stock photo)

THUNDER BAY — The number of bear complaints in the Thunder Bay region and Northwestern Ontario has increased dramatically this year.

The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry says multiple factors have led to a rise of nearly 300 per cent in calls to the ministry.

Between April and mid-August, MNDMNRF received 950 reports of nuisance bears in the Northwest Region, compared with only 360 in the same period last year.

In the District of Thunder Bay, there were 230 calls up to mid-August, compared with only 100 a year ago.

Ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said a late spring frost, a prolonged drought, and forest fires have all contributed to the increase.

"The hot and dry weather across the Northwest Region combined with a late frost that killed many blossoming fruits has caused a decrease in the amount of natural foods found in the bush," Kowalski said Monday.

She said that in many areas the blueberry crop has either failed or is in very limited supply.

Kowalski said one of the worst forest fire seasons on record has also displaced bears from their usual territories which may be contributing to more frequent human/bear interactions.

She noted that the arrival of one bear in a residential area may result in multiple calls to the ministry about the same animal.

Statistics released Monday by the Thunder Bay Police Service show police are also dealing with an extreme increase in nuisance bear complaints.

As of Aug. 22, they had received 75 calls for service, compared with only 17 last year and five the year before at this same point in the season. 

Of the 75 incidents, 70 involve calls from residential areas of the city and only five were rural calls.

Over the last six years, the second busiest season for bear complaints to the TBPS was in 2018, when it responded to 34 calls for service by Aug. 22 of that year.

NOTE:  This story has been updated to include additional data provided by the Thunder Bay Police Service


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