Bears have been conspicuous of late, with both the local police service and natural resources staff experiencing a flood of calls.
“There’s definitely been an increase in the complaints and we make our officers aware of them,” said Sgt. Randy Hosken of the Greater Sudbury Police Service.
Police have fielded 720 bear-related calls so far this summer, which is more than double the 335 received last year at this time. In the past four days alone, there have been 110 complaints, resulting in 48 service calls due to potential safety concerns.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, meanwhile, has experienced a tenfold spike in reports of Sudbury problem bruins.
“Last week. we had a total of 258 bear-related calls in Sudbury,” said Adriana Pacitto, assistant regional outreach specialist with the MNR in Timmins. “In the same week in 2014, we had 28 calls, so it’s 230 more this year.”
The ministry, which operates the Bearwise hotline, attributes the spike in urban bear concerns primarily to a drop in wild food sources.
“A lot of it is linked to the lack of blueberries,” said Pacitto. “A late spring frost caused damage to the flowers, and statistically the area is really dry, so that also delayed natural food growth.”
But humans aren’t helping by leaving out attractants like smelly garbage, barbecue residue and birdseed. “In the summer, birds don’t really need food,” said Pacitto. “For bears, these bird feeders offer condensed calories, and they will swat them down and munch out.”
She said the MNR no longer traps and relocates nuisance bears as “the science shows that eventually they just come back to their place of origin.”