Nfld. & Labrador

Berry pickers have a rare bear encounter on the Avalon Peninsula

Jordan Wells captured video footage of a black bear near Colinet, but says the encounter wasn't scary — and wasn't common.

Jordan Wells and a friend saw a black bear near Cataracts Provincial Park

Jason Wells shot video of this black bear while berry picking near Colinet on the Avalon Peninsula. (Jason Wells/Facebook)

Black bears aren't often seen on the Avalon Peninsula, but a pair of berry pickers caught a glimpse of one near Cataracts Provincial Park, near Colinet in St. Mary's Bay, earlier this week.

Jordan Wells was looking for partridgeberries with a friend when he saw an animal within about 150 yards of them.

"I seen a flash of black up over the ridge so I kind of had an idea, well, it was either a bear or a moose," Wells told The St. John's Morning Show.

A moose would have been less surprising, but the animal was in fact a bear and it didn't seem to notice the pair, Wells said. 

Recognizing the rarity of the animal sighting in this part of the province, Wells grabbed his phone and realized it was dead. He made a dash for his friend's phone instead and managed to carefully creep closer to the bear.

"He was within 20 yards when I decided to try to stand up and try to get a for-sure picture," he said.

The bear didn't notice him until he stood up — but once he did, the animal "scampered" off in the opposite direction, Wells said.

This sighting comes after two public advisories about black bears elsewhere on the island were issued this fall. On Sept.  16, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources said a black bear had been seen in Corner Brook in the Fillatre Avenue-Sunnyslope Drive area. Then on Sept. 19, the department said it had received several recent complaints about a black bear in and around Snook's Harbour, which is near Clarenville. 

Not his first brush with a bear

It wasn't Wells's first encounter with a bear he's an avid outdoorsman who has spent time in Labrador, where he said it was easy to be up close and personal with the big animals.

None of those encounters have been frightening, he said. "I kind of have a good knowledge on what to do and what's OK when it comes to those kind of animals."

If a black bear encounter sounds significantly less pleasant to you, you can take a few protective measures. Stay calm, don't turn and run, fight back if you're attacked, and make noise to scare the bear off.

"They should really take off if you're making a racket," Wells said.

Ultimately, the bears aren't really looking for humans, he said, just berries and ants to eat.

And once the bear wandered off without incident, Wells and his friend went back to their own hunt for food — they continued with their berry picking.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show