7 polar bears visit stormbound Black Tickle
Close encounter with visiting singer-songwriter, Sherman Downey
As residents of Black Tickle on the coast of Labrador dig out from a four-day snow storm, they're keeping their eyes peeled for four-footed visitors.
Seven polar bears were spotted in or around the community on Tuesday, causing lots of excitement for newcomers such as the local teacher and nurse, and a visiting entertainer, Sherman Downey.
Downey and another man came within 100 metres of one bear.
"I started waving to them, trying to get their attention, to let them know there was a polar bear just around the turn," said Jeffrey Keefe, a sergeant with the Canadian Rangers, whose job it is to keep bears away from the town.
"When Sherman looked around, he was looking right at the bear ... he was pretty excited."
Sublime. Some polar bears came ashore in Black Tickle today!<br>Photo from <a href="https://twitter.com/ShermanDowney">@ShermanDowney</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/labrador?src=hash">#labrador</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNL">@CBCNL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/cbccornerbrook">@cbccornerbrook</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCLabrador">@CBCLabrador</a> <a href="https://t.co/rbIRCamNJt">pic.twitter.com/rbIRCamNJt</a>—@karisitah
Keefe said two of the bears passed through town, leaving only footprints.
Others came closer.
"While I was out trying to clear the snow from my shed to get my snowmobiles out, I had a call around lunchtime. There was one coming in on the ice towards the community," he told Labrador Morning on Wednesday.
"He was out on the edge of the ice, because the ice is after breaking in a good bit, the last few days, so now they're bringing them in a bit closer."
Keefe said he and another ranger fired off a noise maker called a bear banger, and the bear went into the water.
'Try not to aggravate them'
While the bears don't make him nervous, he does keep his guard up.
"You don't know if they are hungry or what they'll do. It is a wild animal," Keefe said. "You try not to aggravate them too much."
While Keefe the other rangers know what to do to move the bears along, the gawkers can complicate the job.
"If they see me going they know there's a bear, so they all chase me," he said. "You might turn around and there could be 20 Ski-Doos right behind you and everybody there with cameras."
There could be 20 Ski-Doos right behind you and everybody there with cameras.- Jeffrey Keefe, Canadian Ranger
Keefe said people in Black Tickle are used to polar bears, which have been coming around for years.
"They come pretty close. We've had them here right amongst the houses, walking along. We've had them here over the years lie down next to people's houses in the nighttime. We've had em here walk up the steps of a man's bridge.
- 'Bear was looking right at him': Close encounters with polar bears in Labrador
- Polar bears 'coming in all directions' in Black Tickle
Most bears will avoid human contact, he said, and the ones passing by this week look well fed.
"They look really healthy ... they have been eating good, these ones have."
With files from Labrador Morning