Black Bear Sightings High This Year

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The Department of Natural Resources receives many calls each spring from the public regarding bear sightings. Black bears are common in most of Nova Scotia and the number of problem bears varies depending on the availability of their natural foods.

"We have been receiving a significant number of calls this spring concerning bears," said Natural Resources Minister Tim Olive. "Because of the cool, wet weather this year, the bears have not been able to find adequate natural foods. So we need to be vigilant in our efforts to make sure discarded food or food sources are not left around our homes and yards."

Bears are naturally curious in their search for food. Roaming bears may be attracted to garbage, composters, green bins, and bird feeders. In 2002, the department received close to 500 reports of nuisance bear situations.

Home and cottage owners can discourage visiting bears by taking the following steps:

-- Never leave garbage lying around your property. If possible, garbage containers should be made of metal and kept away from forested areas.

-- When leaving your camp or cottage, take your garbage with you.

-- Do not pour cooking fats outside, near your home or cottage.

-- Keep barbecue grills clean and free of grease.

-- If you feed household pets outdoors, make sure leftovers and spillage are cleaned up.

-- Bird feeders are another source of attraction for bears, so they should be removed at night from areas where bears are common or for several days until the bear has left the area. Birds do not need to be fed at this time of year because they have plenty of food sources.

-- Composters should be properly used, which means meat and fish scraps should not be included. The compost should be turned often to prevent odors and to hasten decomposition. Lime can be used to reduce odors.

-- Green bins should be kept in shady but open areas away from forest cover. Meat, fish scraps and kitchen waste may develop a strong odor. They should be wrapped well in newspaper or frozen and put in the green bin on collection day. It is also a good idea to wash the green bin to get rid of any lingering smells.

Bears are normally shy around people, but they have the potential to be dangerous so use caution around them.

All bear problems in communities and near homes should be reported to the nearest Natural Resources office. Staff will respond to the reports and determine what action should be taken. In most instances the problem can be resolved by removing food sources, but in some cases live trapping and relocating the bear may be necessary. If the bear has become bold or aggressive, or appears to be overly dependant on foods provided by humans, the bear may have to be put down.