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Provincial researcher gives an update on the black bear population

Black bear sightings in Timmins and across the north began before the snow melted.

A bear research scientist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said at this time of year, bears are hungry.

“They come out of their den, they’ve used up all of their fat stores over the winter,” said research scientist Joe Northrup.

“Then they can put up to 30 to 40 per cent of their body weight in a summer and fall just eating non-stop during that time period when there’s good available food for them and really, really pack it on which is incredible."

Northrup said one of the biggest bear research projects has been ongoing since 2017 and it involves collecting bear hair samples that help determine the species population.

"And what we see in the Boreal forest, numbers are a little lower than they were previously,” he said.

“In the southern parts in mixed deciduous forest, bear populations have gone up a little bit, as well. And we also see some areas where bear populations have gone down quite a bit -- one place in particular is the Bruce Peninsula.”

Northrup said the most effective way to preserve the population of black bears is to keep conflicts with them to a minimum.

“That’s how we keep people and bears safe ... keep your bird feeders inside, keep your trash inside, those sorts of things, those are the best to focus on," he said.

The ministry reminds the public that not every bear sighting is an emergency.

It said to call 911 if a bear has broken into your residence or into a schoolyard, but call the 24-hour Bear Wise line if a bear is up one of your trees or is it or your household garbage. Top Stories

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