Nfld. & Labrador

Keep calm and don't approach the polar bear: Tips from a conservation officer

A polar bear that was spotted on Monday on Fogo Island has been causing quite a stir among local residents.
Conservation officer Laurie Holloway says polar bear tracks were spotted just outside Tilting on Fogo Island earlier this week. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC News)

A polar bear that was spotted on Monday on Fogo Island has been causing quite a stir among local residents.

On Tuesday, someone saw tracks in the community of Tilting.

Since then, there hasn't been a sighting, or any new tracks laid.

Laurie Holloway, a conservation officer with the Foresty and Agrifoods Agency, told CBC Radio's On the Go the bear could have gone back out onto the ice floes.

However, if the bear does return to shore, Holloway suggests to give the animal some space — and don't approach it.

"If anyone sees one, back away. Get out of the situation, but we don't want to run. Seek shelter, remain calm," said Holloway. 

"But if it is seen and reported, then we would try and get into the area, and if it's safe to do so, chemically immobilize the animal and deal with it to relocate."

Holloway said the northern ice is fairly close to shore, so it's not unexpected that a bear would meander onto the island.

"The ice is approximately 10 miles off to the north-northeast of Fogo right now," she said.

"Usually we see more of the ice in the spring of the year that moves down and goes towards the Avalon, and that's when we see sightings of polar bears." 

Police and conservation staff, meanwhile, continue to look for the polar bear.

Holloway advised that if a bear is spotted, contact the Department of Natural Resources immediately.

"We'd like people to call our standby number at (709) 674-1521, and that's a forestry official that we have on standby at all hours."