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Wildlife

It’s the May long weekend, the beginning of cottage/camping/boating season, and for once the weather has cooperated! Everything is greening up here and there’s plenty of wildlife out and about in my garden: a grouse, fox, and rabbits (and blackflies… ). Not to mention the squirrel that’s found a way into the house more than once. We’re still trying to work out where it’s getting in.

And this week, for the first time since we moved here 11 years ago, we had a visit from a black bear. We’ve seen them before at a safe distance away, but never so close to the house. I instantly had visions of bear claws ripping through screens and destroying my screen room. But no–this bear just ambled around to the front of the house and settled down under the washing line to chew some grass. We watched him for a little while (safely from inside), then my husband figured he’d better yell at the bear to move it on–and it obligingly did so. No return visits–so far…

Our house is in the country and surrounded by crown land. So it’s not that much of a surprise that a bear would find its way into our yard. But with so much new construction taking place on what was previously green space, bear sightings can also be a concern if you live in more built-up areas in town. So it’s good to be aware of some of the “bear wise” basics:

Always clean up your barbecue thoroughly

Keep your garbage stored securely, and only take it to the curb the morning of collection, not the night before.

Don’t leave bird food–or pet food–outside during bear season.

For more information, including what to do if you encounter a bear, read the updated advice on the Ontario government web site. Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry no longer traps and relocates bears. So residents here are now instructed to call the police if a bear is displaying threatening behavior. Guidelines vary across the different provinces, but most have similar “Bear Wise” programs, such as Alberta BearSmart.

I’m happy that my screen room stayed intact as I plan on spending plenty of time in there during this beautiful sunny long weekend, as well as visiting Windy Lake Provincial Park. Hopefully I won’t encounter any bears!