Some in the northeast aren't happy with how the Ministry of Natural Resources is — or isn't — dealing with nuisance black bears, so residents and local politicians are starting to take matters into their own hands.
Patricia Mongraine was relaxing at home when she encountered three bears in the yard of her New Sudbury home recently. She said it was unnerving to see them prowling for garbage.
"I do have a six-foot fence and I did just let my dog in," she said. "It's a little scary to think that nobody is there to help me and nobody is doing anything to encourage these bears to go away."
Mongraine called the MNR, but also printed and posted her own flyers warning families in the neighbourhood about her bear situation.
Rise in nuisance bears?
Further north in Cochrane, Mayor Peter Politis said there have been four bear attacks in his town this summer.
In one instance, a woman and her family were stalked by black bears in their home. In the other, a 30-year-old man barely escaped with his life.
"What concerns us, more than anything else, is the behavior of these animals at this point," he said.
"All four of these attacks are where the bear has entered people's homes and sought people out. And these are all within the city limits."
Politis says he has tried asking the MNR to provide the town with bear traps or training to deal with its own problems, but talks that haven't progressed so far.
'The Ministry of Natural Resources needs to take responsibility back for managing black bears.'—Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis
He said he's seen a rise in nuisance bears since the MNR cancelled its Bear Wise program last summer, which downloaded the responsibility of dealing with problem bears to police and a self-help website.
"First and foremost the Ministry of Natural Resources needs to take the responsibility back for managing black bears," Politis said.
"Then they need to reach out to the municipalities to come up with a protocol where their lives aren't in danger while they're seeking help from their municipal government."
MNR spokesperson Karen Passmore said bear attacks on people are a rare occurrence.
In the past 20 years, there has been one human fatality as a result of a bear attack in a provincial park in 2005. During the same time period, there were 13 incidents involving serious injuries.
Public safety is a key focus for the MNR, Passmore said.
The MNR said there have been more than 900 calls to its bear-reporting line in 2013, down from more than 2,200 for the same period last year.
The number of calls isn't necessarily indicative of bear incidents, the ministry noted.
The numbers can include people calling with questions or a bear sighting. However, the ministry reports it has received one account of a bear-caused injury this year.