By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Some people may have been rubbing their eyes and doing a double take over the weekend. There is no way that a bear would come to Oshawa.
Issuing an advisory on Twitter, Durham police are warning residents to be cautious after a black bear was spotted over the weekend in Dundee Park on Waverly Street North, south of Rossland Road. There was also a bear spotted near Stephen G Saywell Public School, west of Thornton Road South and north of King Street West.
The two Oshawa sightings came just a few days after a bear sighting near Taunton Road and Garden Street in Whitby.
Sgt. Bill Calder, a spokesperson for DRPS, tells The Oshawa Express that while the force receives numerous calls about bear sightings throughout the region every year, it’s only when they begin to encroach on public areas that they notify the public.
“For the most part, we do coexist with wild animals out there. As long as we keep people up to date and they let us know where they’re sighting them, we can just let people know to stay away from that area,” Calder says, adding that based on the locations of the sightings, police believe there are two different bears.
Jolanpa Kowalski, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, says that based on the description of one of the bears that was sighted – approximately the size of a Saint Bernard dog – she believes that it is a younger animal.
“Potentially, it’s a cub that’s working its way through green space. Often when the cubs leave the mother, they don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. They can stumble into trouble more than a bear that has its own established range,” she says.
“There are enough green wildlife corridors where animals could travel from the north and just stumble down and, as with the one we’re talking about here, may just stumble their way back and be gone. It’s not necessarily a case of them looking for food. They may have just been traveling along and made their way down and, hopefully, make their way out if they haven’t already.”
As of press time, there had been no more reported bear sightings in Oshawa or Whitby.
However, in the unlikely case that someone does come across a bear, Kowalski says there are some steps you can take.
“It’s important to remember that bears are usually just passing through, and they tend to be more scared of us, just as much as we don’t really want to interact with them,” she says.
“What we suggest is if you encounter a bear, remain calm and back away. If you’re near a building or a car, get inside as a precaution. If the bear was attracted to food or garbage, be sure to remove those items when the bear leaves, so to discourage the bear from returning.”
While there have been no reports to date of the bears getting into garbage to search for food, Calder says residents should wait to put their garbage and recycling collections out until the morning of pick up, rather than the night before.