The Province is reminding campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to be aware and to be ‘Bear Smart’ after a child was attacked by a bear in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.
On Saturday, July 21, an eight-year-old girl was injured when a black bear attacked her tent at a back-country campsite on South Cross Lake. The girl was treated and released from hospital with cuts to her face, but is otherwise in good condition.
The family had taken many appropriate safety precautions including hanging food in a bear-proof barrel in a tree away from the campsite, and removing or reducing other attractants at the site. After the bear swiped the tent, injuring the girl, it climbed a tree and tried unsuccessfully to get into the food barrel. The girl’s father was able to scare the bear away from the campsite, which allowed the family time to gather some essentials, alert other campers and get into their canoe so they could get to their vehicle.
Although this attack was in the general vicinity of an attack reported on the Mantario trail July 2, this site is over 30 kilometres away and wildlife experts believe it is unlikely the same bear is involved. Conservation officers are searching for the bear and there is an effort to trap it, but it was last seen swimming away toward Caddy Lake so it may be difficult to locate. The back-country campsite where the attack took place has been closed for the time being.
Remember the following preventive measures to avoid conflicts with bears:
- never approach or feed a bear (or any other wild animal);
- keep dogs on a leash to reduce the potential of it being attacked by a bear or leading a bear back to you;
- store attractants, such as food and garbage, in a secure building or bear resistant container so they are not accessible to bears;
- when travelling in wilderness areas be alert, make noise, travel in groups, and keep children close by;
- take down bird feeders between April and November;
- store garbage in a secure building or bear resistant container;
- secure compost piles or compost food items indoors;
- in the summer, remove all ripened or fallen fruit daily in the morning and before dusk and don’t allow it to rot on the ground;
- allow barbecue grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors, and clean grills and grease cup after each use;
- clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck and don’t allow food odors to linger;
- feed pets indoors and never leave food dishes outdoors; and
- fully enclose backyard beehives and chicken coops; electric fencing is an effective bear deterrent.
These measures also apply to other wildlife that can be a problem including coyotes, deer, foxes, raccoons and skunks.
Manitoba regulations prohibit the roadside feeding of bears and other wildlife. Feeding wildlife along roads and highways teaches them to associate people and cars with easy meals. By not feeding wildlife along roadways, people can reduce the possibility of:
- collisions with wildlife or other vehicles;
- having to euthanize an animal because it’s been injured, or becomes a threat to people;
- damage or destruction to personal property; and
- attacks on people.
Bears are wild animals and must be respected. When in bear country, people should assume bears are in the vicinity even if no recent conflict or encounters have been reported. Remember to carry bear deterrent spray and know how to use it. Be aware of the surroundings, walk or jog in groups, make noise and do not use earphones to listen to music.
More information on how to be Bear Smart - www.manitoba.ca/blackbear.