New Brunswick

Kids' play area closed after black bear sighting in Saint John park

A children's play area in Irving Nature Park in Saint John was evacuated and temporarily closed Sunday after a black bear was spotted in the area.

Children's Forest in Irving Nature Park to remain closed until bear is safely captured

There have been several reports of black bears in the Saint John and Kingston Peninsula areas in the past week. (File photo/Submitted by Cam Briffett )

A children's play area in Irving Nature Park in Saint John was evacuated and temporarily closed Sunday after a black bear was spotted in the area.

The "small bear" was seen in the area at around 2 p.m., Saint John police spokesperson Sean Rocca said on Monday.

Police officers were called to help evacuate and close the area, and forest rangers with the Department of Natural Resources were called to search for the bear.

On Monday, department spokesperson Nick Brown said rangers deployed a live-trap at the site but had not captured the bear as of Monday afternoon.

"A live-trap is usually left for several days [and] nights to attempt a capture, and we ask that the public not approach the trap," Brown said in an email.

The live trap is used to safely capture an animal so that it can be relocated.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Irving Nature Park noted that the incident alarmed park staff and prompted the decision to keep the Children's Forest play area closed for the next few days.

"We are concerned about the bear's recent behaviour of being in urban areas in the daytime and getting close to BBQs and people," park staff said in the post.

Earlier sighting on Kingston Peninsula

Irving Nature Park spokesperson Anne McInerney said the decision to close the park was made "out of an abundance of caution." 

"The Children's Forest will remain closed until we get the all-clear from the Department [of Natural Resources]," McInerney said.

She asked residents to watch the park's Facebook page for updates and announcements on when the park will reopen.

The incident was the latest of several reported sightings in the southern New Brunswick area.

Last Thursday, several Kingston Peninsula residents posted warnings on Facebook about a "large black bear" spotted in Clifton Royal, in the Neck Road and Centreton Road area.

Brown said such sightings are not uncommon in such areas.

"Any forested area of the province has the habitat attributes to be used or visited by black bears and other wildlife," he said. 

"So the public should be aware of the possibility of encounters with wild animals."


Marie Sutherland is a web writer with CBC News based in Saint John. You can reach her at

With files from Hadeel Ibrahim


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