This is an open letter to MPP Bill Mauro and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
For the better part of the last year (August 2017-present) there has been a large black bear roaming the streets of Northwood. He recently reappeared, after a three-month slumber, in early March. He has been seen in multiple areas in Northwood by many of the residents. Most everyone is aware and worried about his continued presence. I’m not one to be an alarmist, one of the things I love most about this city is that we have wildlife around us. However, there are times when interaction with wildlife within city limits becomes dangerous. Particularly when you’re talking about a 200+ pound black bear that can run at 40 km/h.
There have already been several close encounters. A neighbour on Acadia Cres almost walked right into the bear coming around the corner of their car. A couple times last fall I encountered the bear in my back tree when I was coming down the side pathway to enter my house. Another neighbour saw the bear come out from between houses moments after she had been walking with her children and dog. And the bear was even reported last fall around St. Francis grade school in the early dawn hours prompting a couple parents to contact the school. And there are many others.
All of us have called the Bearwise hotline multiple times to report these encounters and been given the same standard answer – ‘Bears will be bears, just try to remove food sources (birdfeeders, garbage, etc.) and the bear will eventually move on. And if you have an emergent encounter call 911. And no, we won’t try to relocate him.’ Most people have removed birdfeeders, etc and don’t put their garbage out until the late morning. But there are still many trees that have apples, shrubs that have berries, backyard gardens, and many other things you can’t expect to be 100% removed. Shouldn’t 2 dozen plus calls received by Bearwise from a 3-4 block radius raise a red flag that there’s an issue brewing?
There are a lot of people in this area that walk the streets and the pathways that wind through Northwood year round. Elderly who aren’t very mobile, young parents tuned out to the surroundings listening to music with headphones on as they push young children in strollers, young kids on bikes, a person such as myself in wheelchairs, and many others at all times of the day. And there are numerous residential parks where children play that is surrounded by significant patches of trees. Is the MNR really willing to simply cross their fingers that nothing will happen?
The Bearwise website says a bear becomes a concern or an emergency when it’s lingering in a site. Wouldn’t 9 months qualify as lingering? I think it’s pretty safe to say this bear has made himself comfortable in the area and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I could call the police to “dispatch” the bear but realistically they’re too busy to attend to such a matter and chances are the bear would have walked away by the time they arrived. And truthfully, I don’t think anyone wants to see the bear shot. I think everyone involved would rather see the bear live captured and relocated for its own safety and for the safety of everyone in the area.
So my question to you MPP Bill Mauro & the Ministry of Natural Resources is, how long are you willing to roll the dice that there isn’t going to be a dangerous encounter with a human? And respectfully, what exactly is the purpose of the MNR if it’s not to rectify situations like this before they become dangerous?
Can we expect to receive your help to proactively resolve this or will you continue to stand idly by until someone gets seriously hurt or worse?
Robert J. Cella
This is the bear in my backyard last November. FYI that walkway he exited down is the one I wheel my wheelchair down to get to the entrance to my home.
***And the attached picture is our Northwood Councillor Shelby Ch’ng who lives on the street inside mine posted a day ago