The Mayor of Glovertown on the north east coast is looking forward to the fall more than usual this year — because it means the black bears will go away for a while.
The area has been witness to a dramatic upswing in black bear sightings this year, reportedly due to the area dump closing down last year.
The bears’ presence has been fraying the nerves of the citizens and at least three of the animals have been shot by people in the community, said Mayor Dave Saunders.
But he also said that sightings and the number of bears caught in traps in the town has been down significantly over the past couple days, and he believes this is a sign that the worst is over.
“There’s still a few around but there’s not as many complaints now. ... The situation has cleared up greatly in the last two or three days,” said Saunders.
“The bears are beginning to move on now to do their winter denning and that. I’d say within the next two or three weeks they are going to be moved out of town,” he added.
But the town and the province are not taking any chances.
They held a meeting Friday with concerned residents to talk about the issue.
“Overall it was a good discussion, a frank discussion. A lot of the residents were upset and I guess they had reason to be — but anyway it seems to be under control a bit now,” said Saunders.
There were voices in that meeting calling on the bears to be destroyed, but Saunders said he’s hopeful that won’t be necessary.
“I don’t think at the present time — I think the option is take them farther away from the community,” he said.
The community also seems to be taking all the media coverage and wildlife warnings to heart, added Saunders.
People have started taking precautions like keeping trash indoors until pickup day.
“Most of the people now are bear-proofing everything: their sheds, their basements, everything,” he said.
Wildlife officers have also stepped up their presence in the town, added the mayor, and trapped bears are now being released farther away from the town.
For at least the next couple of weeks there will be an officer in the town at all times, just in case they are needed.
The province has also been warning people in the area to take precautions.
It suggests people harvest any fruit from fruit trees when it’s ripe, keep dairy products and meat out of compost piles, clean barbecue grills after use to minimize odour, and remove bird feeders from their yards in April and replace them in November.
Officials say residents should never leave food, pet food, bottles, pop cans or food containers outside, and should store food, garbage, coolers, camp stoves, and pots and pans in a shed, cabin, or vehicle.
They should also properly store, collect and dispose of garbage, and to refrain from storing garbage in outside containers until collection day, in an effort to deter the bears from coming into town.
But despite Saunders’ optimism, and the efforts of the community, there is always the strong likelihood the bears will be back after their winter hibernation.
Still, the mayor said he suspects this summer has been a bit of a wake-up call for the community.
“I’m not sure on that — but I think they will be monitoring it early next spring. We didn’t really monitor enough (this year), though we did have a committee set up ... we did expect some bears but not as great as what it was here. At one time we had as high as 30 bears around the vicinity of here, Glovertown and Traytown,” he said.