Nfld. & Labrador

No photos! Put your phone down when a polar bear's around, says wildlife enforcement

Wildlife enforcement officers discourage the public from stopping and snapping pictures of polar bears. They say it could be dangerous and aggravate the animal in a spring with multiple polar bear sightings across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Getting a photo of a polar bear might seem harmless, but it can be anything but

Carrie Barry Dyson snapped this picture from safe inside her cabin in Batteau, Labrador. She says the bear gave her quite a scare. (Submitted by Carrie Barry Dyson)

A picture of a nearby polar bear is impressive, but it can also be dangerous to get. That's why wildlife enforcement officers are discouraging the public from stopping for a snap if they see one of the big white bears in the wild.

There have been multiple polar bear sightings across Newfoundland and Labrador, from Carmanville to Cartwright, already this spring. It can be tempting to prove you've seen one of the bears in person, but Colin Carroll with the province's Department of Land Resources said a photo isn't worth the risk.

"It's not a good idea to stick around and get a picture," Carroll told Newfoundland Morning.  

"Keep your distance and back away slowly. Keep calm and quiet. Try and create space between you and the animals and proceed in the opposite direction when possible."

Dustin Carroll spotted this polar bear with its tongue hanging out in Cook's Harbour, N.L. (submitted by Dustin Carroll )

Carroll is seeing a lot of people stopping to snap quick pictures of bears while out for a drive or a ride on snowmobile, and said that's a bad idea.

"It's a snowball effect," said Carroll.

"Someone else does it, and then another group does it, and soon you could have a pretty big crowd around an area where there is a bear," he said.

Makes a tough job tougher

Even friendly paparazzi could agitate wild animals.

While we're all more likely to have a camera on hand these days, thanks to smart phones, Carroll said he wouldn't advise anybody to stop for a photo unless they are very far away from the animal and using an extra long camera lens.

This white, furry beast was spotted walking down the road in Carmanville, N.L. (submitted by Clayton Collins )

Carroll and his team with wildlife enforcement are responsible for deterring bears from sticking around communities, but snap-happy spectators can prevent the officers from doing that job properly. 

"We'd like the option to have lots of space and ability to use our deterring agents, which do include high-powered rifles for tranquillizing or shooting off loud bangers to get the bear, and you have to have a lot of space to be able to use those pieces of equipment," he explained.

Despite the recent sightings, Carroll doesn't believe there are more polar bears than usual this spring. He and his staff consistently receive calls about bear sightings this time of year, he said.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Files from Newfoundland Morning


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.