Bear is safely removed from westfort residential area
BY KAREN MCKINLEY
Residents in the Stanley Avenue area woke up to an unwelcome visitor in their neighbourhood, a hungry bear.
The encounter in Westfort ended without bloodshed on Saturday morning, much to the happiness of residents and emergency services who had to remove it.
Arthur Moore, who lives at 1332 Stanley Avenue, said one of his dogs alerted him to a bear raiding his apple tree.
“The bear was eating apples from around the bottom of the tree and the dog chased the bear up another tree (in front of my house),” he said in an interview. “I alerted my immediate neighbours and called 911.”
Once police arrived, they tried to scare the bear out of the tree with their sirens, but it refused to move. The Ministry of Natural Resources was called around 10 a.m. to tranquilize and remove the bear.
“We darted the bear when he was at the first limb (around 15 feet above the ground),” said Ross Johnston, conservation officer for the MNR. “Unfortunately, he climbed another 25 to 30 feet and wedged himself in the tree. Normally I climb a ladder and push them out of the tree, but that’s too far a fall.”
Johnston called the fire department and they brought the ladder truck with a bucket. Johnston said he was able to reach the unconscious bear and safely lower it to the ground, to a chorus of cheers and applause from onlookers and neighbourhood residents.
“I’m glad the bear is OK, they didn’t have to shoot it,” Moore said.
The bear was tagged once it was loaded into a cage. Johnston said the bear would be released in the wild once it regained consciousness. He confirmed the bear was a male, around four years old and about 200 pounds.
He said most of the bear encounters he has dealt with in the city were juveniles, with this bear being typical. The largest he ever caught in the city was 485 pounds.
Johnston said his only regrets were he didn’t get there faster and that the incident hadn’t led to six police officers and a fire truck to resolve it. The alternative, however, was to shoot him.
He added that with fruit trees and gardens ready for harvest, property owners should take time to pick up fruit that has fallen from trees and pick ripe fruit and vegetables immediately to prevent bears from trying to steal them.
“If you don’t you will get a visitor,” he said.
There was a second bear sighting in the Superior Street area at the same time. Johnston said that bear ran back to the bush.