A bear was shot earlier this month in Old Town after it had invaded a few people’s lawns and wreaked havoc in the neighbourhood.
“It was 5 a.m. and my parents were here visiting,” said Rosie Wallington, who caught the bear eating her trash. “I guess my mom heard something in the backyard and thought someone was causing mischief, but she saw it was a bear and came and woke me up.”
Wallington said the bear had opened her garbage bin, taken the contents to her backyard flower bed, and proceeded to feast at the base of a tree. When she made a lot of noise to scare him away, he scampered up the tree and into the neighbouring yard.
Regional environmental co-ordinator Albert Bourque said the bear, who was killed, was a young male, likely seeking territory and food.
“July is the leanest month they are out of the den,” said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources employee. “The perennial plants are done, and there’s a period of time before the really nutritional plants, like berries, come up.”
While dandelions are pretty typical fare for bears at this time of year, this bear in particular came into town to eat the more than 100 fish that had been dumped on the ground at Porritt Landing. Bourque said the bear smelled of his recent meal when he was killed.
“We prefer to put them on the run before they get a food reward and learn they can eat easily in town,” he said. “We use rubber bullets and loud bangs to scare them away, but that doesn’t work once they’ve grown used to humans and the garbage they produce.”
Bourque has worked in Yellowknife and said bears that had been relocated more than 200 km out of town found their way back within two weeks.
Upon examining the bear’s carcass, officers found he had already been shot, probably late last fall with a 22 calibre bullet. Bourque said it’s likely someone tried to scare it away but cautions against that kind of deterrent.
“Any injured animal will take greater risks to find sustenance for itself,” he said. “Any wounded animal is a dangerous animal. We have seen bears that have sustained significant injury and survived, but have become dump bears.”
This year, with the fires so close, there will be more bears on the move. Bourque cautioned residents to be smart with their garbage and only take it out the morning of pickup.
“We will see them more frequently this summer,” he said. “Call us right away if you see them, and we will come and take care of it.”