People throughout Colchester County have been spotting bears recently. The Department of Natural Resources reminds people to be aware of their environment and be educated on how to act when seeing a bear close up. Lynn Curwin - Special to the Truro Daily News
TRURO - People are reporting more local bear sightings this year.
Although some of the animals quickly disappear into the trees, others remain in the open area long enough for those watching to snap a photo of them. One couple, Arlene and Gary Landry, spotted a bear while delivering flyers last week.
"It was twenty to four Wednesday afternoon and we were in Harmony," said Arlene. "It was just on the road and we were driving. It was just a young bear, about two years old."
A Bass River area resident was able to take pictures on May 30 as a young bear spent some time with her daughter's horse. The horse eventually gave the visitor a kick, convincing it to leave. One of these pictures appeared in the June 28 edition of the Colchester Weekly News.
Melanie Lowe, of Wentworth, has also seen a few bears this year. She spotted a mother with two cubs on the New Annan Road, one by the Wallace River Bridge and one in Thompson Station.
The sightings are becoming more frequent, says the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.
"Calls about bears have been up a little from last year," said Tim MacNaughton, forest technician with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. "Most are just seen and move on.
"A lot of cases where they're on someone's property could be avoided with a little prevention. Bears are showing up in a lot of places because of composters and garbage. A compost bin is a smorgasbord for a bear."
A bear can smell food more than a kilometre away, so edible items can be a major draw. MacNaughton recommends that items such as lobster shells, meat, fruit and vegetables be wrapped in paper and frozen, then placed into a compost bin shortly before collection time. Washing bins with a 15 per cent solution of bleach and water will reduce smell, and keeping compost and rubbish bins inside a shed until pick-up day is also a good idea.
In addition, barbecues need to be thoroughly cleaned to avoid attracting bears. Pet food should not be left outside and bird feeders should also be removed from April to October.
Another tip, said the natural resources department, is keeping bears away from agricultural areas, which can be more difficult. Electric fences are often effective.
MacNaughton adds noise can sometimes be a deterrent for bears.
He said banging pots and pans can cause a bear to move away for a bit, but sometimes when the noise stops they still approach the food source that was attracting them.
He stressed the importance of being aware of the surroundings and making noise if travelling through the woods. Although MacNaughton has only seen bears three times, some forest workers have spotted them more often.
"Often when we're in the woods wildlife sees us but we don't usually see them," he added. "Most problem bears are young ones who are on their own for the first time."
The government of Nova Scotia has tips on living around bears and staying safe while hiking or camping at http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/living-with-wildlife/bear/
If You Meet a Bear
Remain as calm as possible
Speak in a firm, authoritative voice and slowly back away. Do not look the bear in the eyes.
Leave escape routes open for the bear as most want to get away from humans.
If the bear begins to follow you, drop something such as an item of clothing to distract it as you move away.
Do not make threatening gestures or sudden moves unless the bear attacks.
Do not run or climb a tree.
If a bear attacks, fight back and make a lot of noise. Do not ‘play dead'. Use pepper spray if you have it.