'A lot' of bears spotted in Hay River, 1 destroyed

Resident Danielle Antoine says she saw a bear near the West Channel Bridge on Tuesday. She says fishers are leaving guts and bones behind, attracting the animals.

'You never know where these bears might show up,' says resident Danielle Antoine

Dawn Isaiah saw this bear near Cranberry Crescent in Hay River. (Dawn Isaiah)

Several bears are hanging around Hay River, N.W.T., and one resident blames a careless fisher for attracting bears to town.

Bears are relatively common outside the community, but people have been reporting more and more sightings to town officials and officers with the territory's Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Danielle Antoine spotted this bear Tuesday near the West Channel Bridge. (Danielle Antoine)

Danielle Antoine spotted a bear Tuesday near the West Channel Bridge, where she'd gone to fish with her husband. Before she went down to the river someone warned her to watch out.

"There was a gentleman there, he had his bike and he said, 'be careful where you park your truck, because there's a bear that walked just behind me.'"

It didn't take long for her to spot it too.

"Right across the river where I was fishing, the bear was walking," she said. "We stood there and fished and watched it eat leaves and berries."

On Wednesday, the Town of Hay River posted on its Facebook page about "a lot" of bear sightings within town limits. It listed a number of things people should do when encountering a bear, including waving your arms, alerting the bear to your presence, and backing away slowly.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said there were multiple sightings of the same four bears, and one of them was destroyed by a wildlife officer after it got into garbage.

The department says the number of sightings in town is about average, coinciding with berries ripening along the river.

Something fishy going on

Antoine said a fisher appears to be cleaning their fish by the river and throwing the waste back into the water, in turn attracting bears that are already hanging around looking for food.

Antoine says bears are attracted to bones and waste from fish that fishers aren't cleaning up properly. (Danielle Antoine)

Antoine said she could smell the fish waste by her fishing spot.

"Usually at this time of the year [bears are] trying to fatten up, eat more and get ready for the winter," Antoine said. "People when they're fishing, they leave their garbage there, all the leftovers from the fish, their bones.

"The bears have to come to town when they smell that."   

For Antoine, people should follow that advice and take caution whenever they plan on going for a walk — especially by themselves.  

"Just be careful where you walk," she said.

"You never know where these bears might show up. They're very quiet and you never know where they might be. Just be safe, let people know where you're walking and where you are."

With files from Mary Powder

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