By Sue Tiffin
Tabi Mascia first captured an image of a black bear walking through her backyard near Newcastle Street in Minden this past August, when her security camera picked up the motion outside at around 10:30 p.m. Though she acknowledges the bear hasn’t caused any problems, she opted to post the image to social media to alert others in the area who might be out walking late at night, like her teenaged son.
“My son that night actually, his curfew is 11,” said Mascia. “He came home at 11 and the bear had come around at about 10:30 or so, so there’s a very good possibility of him encountering it when he was coming home.”
Mascia reported that first sighting to the MNRF, and hoped that by posting to a local Facebook group, she might remind others in the area to be aware if walking late at night.
“[The MNRF] just gave tips, when my son’s walking home, to walk home with music playing, scuff your feet, make noise – because they don’t want to see you just as much as you don’t want to see them.”
Since then, the Mascias have seen the bear, if it’s the same one, on four other occasions, including last week – but only in their security camera’s images, taken at around 11 p.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning.
“We wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for our cameras,” she said. “We couldn’t hear it. We just got a notification in the morning that there was motion. We checked our cameras and I was like, ‘oh my gosh.’ Now we’ve made it a habit every morning to take a look.”
The MNRF also advised that food be put away if it was present. Mascia said there isn’t food in the backyard – garbage is secured in the garage, and according to the video, the bear does not seem to be looking for it.
“That’s what kind of makes them think he’s just passing through, because he’s not stopping,” she said. “In the video from last night, he did kind of pause at our bedroom window, but then he kept going.”
Mascia wonders if the bear is preparing a den nearby.
In the past few weeks, bear sightings have also been informally reported near Windover Drive and near the fairgrounds, arena and cemetery, the social media posts making note of their presence for those walking in the area.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry offers the following guidance regarding bear sightings:
If you do encounter a bear remain calm.
* Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave.
* If the bear does not leave, throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or air horn.
* If you are near a building or vehicle get inside as a precaution.
* Drop any food you may be carrying and slowly move away.
* If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Leave the area. The bear will come down when it feels safe.
Not every bear sighting is an emergency situation. For non-emergencies, call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327, TTY 705-945-7641 to report a sighting or for information and advice.
Call 911 or your local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as:
* stalks people and lingers at the site
* enters or tries to enter a residence
* wanders into a public gathering
“The ministry encourages residents in areas with bear sightings to manage attractants and keep dogs on leash in green spaces to reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts,” said Morgan Kerekes, MNRF spokesperson. “When bears cannot gain access to non-natural foods, such as garbage or bird feeders, they will not remain in the area.”
Additional information regarding attractant management, what to do if you encounter a bear, and living in the same area as bears is available at https://www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise.