Joe Northrup, a research scientist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, highlights the increased sightings of black bears in Timmins and across the north as the animals emerge from hibernation, starving and ready to regain weight. He mentions, “They come out of their den, they’ve used up all of their fat stores over the winter. 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.”
A significant bear research project has been ongoing since 2017, involving the collection of bear hair samples to determine population trends. Northrup shares that numbers in the Boreal forest are slightly lower than before, while in the mixed deciduous forest of the southern parts, bear populations have increased. The Bruce Peninsula, however, has seen a considerable drop in bear numbers.
To keep black bear populations stable and minimize conflicts, Northrup suggests keeping bird feeders and trash indoors. He advises, “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.”
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry also reminds the public to reserve 911 calls for emergencies such as a bear breaking into a residence or schoolyard, and to use the 24-hour Bear Wise line for non-emergency bear-related issues.