Burlington Bears Put Residents on Edge

Community has had an unusual amount of bear activity this fall

Burlington Bears Put Residents on Edge

October 19, 2017 ~ ‘Burlington Bears’ might sound like the title of a kids book but there’s nothing cute about the big black furry animals that have been putting Burlington and Smith’s Harbour residents on edge lately.

Black bears have been coming into Burlington this fall. And those bears have been “brazen”. Bears have been in gardens and near sheds, and up on bridges and near house doors.

There have been many sightings. And the bears are not only out in the dead of night. They have been seen boldly prowling around in the daylight hours as well.

Smith’s Harbour resident Jennifer Young Whalen said she saw a bear in a lane helping itself to someone’s garbage.

That was at 10:00 in the morning.

She added that same lane is used by a boy as a route home after school.

Household garbage has been the bears’ frequent target, as you might expect. But few people would expect daytime sightings. The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources points out on its website what many of us already know: bears are usually most active around dawn and dusk, and bears that live near humans tend to be nocturnal.

But the Burlington bears have also been taking daytime strolls, reportedly causing some parents to start walking their kids to their bus stops.

Facebook has of course seen many posts and comments about the Burlington bears. Comments range from sighting location statements to a lighthearted joke about opening a petting zoo. A couple of people have referred to the bears as “Mr Bear”.

Serious concerns have also been expressed about public safety, as has frustration that the bears haven’t all been caught yet.

A bear trap set out in an uninhabited side lane off Bridge Street in Burlington. Photo taken October 17.

Mayor George Kelly said three bears have been trapped and removed by Wildlife Division. (As of October 17th) He added: “…there is a large one still roaming around. Wildlife has cages here but last night the bear raided several garbage boxes and [left] a mess behind.”

Jennifer Young Whalen said the bears are an ongoing concern. She explained that three bears — a mother and two cubs — were caught in Smith’s Harbour in 2016.

But people have noted the number of bears this year. In messages with Green Bay Feed, Burlington Mayor George Kelly called the situation this fall “weird” due to the number of bears all at once.

On its website the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources suggests, when bears have been sighted in an area, not to put out garbage containers or bird feeders. It also suggests cleaning BBQs extra well to keep tempting smells down. [For more tips click here.]

The website also points out what to do if a black bear is encountered, which reportedly has happened in Burlington this Fall.

“If a black bear approaches you:

Stay calm.
Give the bear space and an escape route.
Speak calmly and firmly, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly
Never run or try to climb a tree. Bears can do both of these things better than you!
If the bear begins to follow you, drop something (not food) to distract it.
Be cautious around females with cubs.
If the bear attacks you, fight back and make a lot of noise. Do not “play dead.” “

[TOP PHOTO: Bear in trap, photo credit Michelle Sheppard] Owner of Shells Meals on Wheels at Baie Verte junction, Michelle Matthews Sheppard, snapped this photo of a caged bear on October 19, 2017. That bear was in the process of being relocated when the Wildlife Division driver pulled in off the TCH, near her food truck. She was told the bear had been caught in a bear trap in the Baie Verte road area.

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