Nova Scotia sees uptick in reported bear sightings
GREENWOOD, N.S. -- Cynthia A. Henry is used to seeing some wildlife in the backyard of her home in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
“Lots of deer. Lots of deer, raccoon, birds of course, squirrels,” she said.
Most of the animals Henry sees on a daily basis are pretty common. But last month, she had an unexpected visitor -- a large black bear.
“I don’t know if there’s any other word other than terrified,” she said of finding a bear outside her home.
Henry was able to capture video of the bear milling about her backyard from inside her home.
“The guy said from the Department of Lands and Forest, if I had cooked my bacon and eggs that morning, he might have come up for a sniff,” said Henry.
“I was thanking God I slept in that day and I was just preparing lunch instead of breakfast, cause if that guy came up, I probably would have passed out. I’m not kidding.”
Henry says in the past 18 years of living in the Annapolis Valley, she has only seen two bears.
“I’m not out at night that much these days,” she said. “You hear him in the back woods. You can hear him going along, he’s grunting and he’s still. He hunts at night, quietly, discretely, and the next morning you wake up and there’s a lot of composts that are knocked over so the bear has been around.”
Henry isn’t the only Nova Scotian to see a black bear recently. According to the Department of Lands and Forestry, there is an uptick in bear sightings.
"The main thing to keep in mind about black bears is they are smart, as most people know,” said Bob Petrie, the director of wildlife for the Department of Lands and Forestry.
“They will learn to take advantage of an easy food source, like your compost bin, or the spillage from your bird feeder, or any pet food that's left outside. That will teach them bad habits that they'll repeat and they will learn to come back for that."
So far this year, there have been close to 700 reported black bear sightings in Nova Scotia. Petrie says that’s about 100 more reports than in 2017.
According to Petrie, it’s hard to say exactly why there are more sightings this year.
"There's been a lot of stories worldwide about, you know, wildlife coming out into areas they wouldn't normally because the people aren't moving around as much. That may be a factor. We haven't studied that.,” said Petrie.
“I know that working from home I tend to see more wildlife than I otherwise would being in the office. So it could be that people working from home are seeing them more often. It's hard to say, so it will be interesting to compare this year to future years when we're hopefully not dealing with COVID-19."
Petrie says people should make noise when walking outside to let bears know they are around. The creatures will normally want to avoid people, unless there is food available.
“The main thing is, whether you're a homeowner or a restaurant operator or whoever, is to keep those food sources away from bears. If you have bears in your area, make sure your compost bins are locked up tight. Sometimes you may want to keep your compost in the freezer until garbage day, when you can put it out. That way it isn't smelly for you or the bears.”