Audrey Berens of Hay River feels a neighbourhood black bear should have been dealt with sooner.
Berens described discovering the bear had scratched her storm door before the door’s glass shattered when she opened it.
While the bear was “successfully removed” on Monday, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) – in this case, the department means “killed” – the week during which it was at large was nerve-wracking for the community, said Berens.
“The bear visited me a couple of times … before he broke the window,” alleged Berens on Friday, three days after the incident occurred.
She says reported the telltale scat to ENR twice – who, she explained, “said they were going to leave the bear alone because he wasn’t vicious.”
After the bear was caught, ENR posted on Facebook: “The bear had become habituated to people and had to be removed.”
When Berens came home last week and felt the scratch marks on the glass, she said she panicked, phoning everyone that might be able to help.
She called her MLA, who she believes called Robert C McLeod, the environment minister. Soon after, a bear trap was set up across the road from her house in the Riverbend/Miron area.
Cabin Radio was unable to confirm the minister’s personal involvement in the bear’s capture.
“It’s quite scary right now,” said Berens prior to the bear’s capture. “There is fear in the neighbourhood. I know there are grandmas meeting their kids getting off the bus.
“The scariest part of all this happened in the night when I was home … I’m afraid to be alone.
“One of my grandchildren, she’s been phoning wanting to come over. I told her, ‘My girl, you can’t come because a bear broke my door and it’s not safe for you right now.’”
‘They can only do so much’
Suzanne Hanna, a renewable resource officer with ENR in Hay River, wrote in an email last Friday: “This week, a number of Hay River residents noticed evidence of a bear on their properties, including scat and broken branches.
“Generally, bears will not be destroyed unless they become a nuisance, and travel into town. We do the best we can to deter and relocate bears, however unfortunately these encounters often result in the bear being destroyed.
“So far this season, eight bears [with yesterday’s capture the number is now up to nine] have been destroyed in Hay River, and a number of other bears have been deterred.”
She stressed the public can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears by not leaving any food – including garbage, fish bones, and dog food – outside.
When calling to report a bear, she said, “Please provide the area the bear was seen in and its observed behaviour. This helps the officer to determine the course of action required.
“Due to a high volume of calls at this time, resources and efforts will be focused on dealing with nuisance and potentially dangerous bears and other wildlife.”
Berens also stressed the importance of reporting problem bears to ENR right away.
“[ENR] can only do so much. If people are not reporting, how can they help us?”