Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown says he hopes no gunshots will be fired in his town this summer
The town of Atikokan, in northwestern Ontario, plans to start a new program this summer to trap and relocate nuisance bears.
The Ministry of Natural Resources cancelled its trap-and-release program several years ago, arguing that it was ineffective.
But Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said people in his town disagree with that stance, and residents began lobbying for a municipally-run program last year.
“Last year there were four young bears shot in Atikokan because there wasn’t an alternate plan,” said Brown. “There was no other way of handling the situation.”
“And we just think that’s a very negative image to portray of our community.”
Not everyone in Atikokan is in favour of a local trap-and-release program, said Brown, but he believes it is the most humane option.
‘We’re prepared to go it on our own’
The town will hire an experienced animal control professional to run the program, said Brown, adding that the trapper is insured, and also worked for the MNR before its relocation program was cut.
Residents will be able to call the trapper to assess a situation, and decide whether a bear should be moved.
“I’m not saying he will trap it in every case,” said Brown. “It depends on how vicious the animal is and how old it is and that type of thing. We’re doing this mostly for the younger bears, but it depends on the situation.”
The cost of the program will be capped at $4000, said Brown.