The reason why black bear sightings are on the rise in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — 2021 could go in the books as the busiest year yet for Black Bear Rescue Manitoba.

The organization has already received 28 black bears cubs in 2021, which is up from the 19 cubs in 2020.

“I don’t think we have seen the last cub arrive here yet,” said Judy Stearns, owner of Black Bear Rescue Manitoba.

Stearns said bear sightings have been up in Manitoba, but doesn’t think that is the main reason why they have received more orphaned cubs than previous years.

“I think that is mainly to do with word of mouth that we’re here now and there’s an option for orphaned cubs in Manitoba.”

However, she did note that there has been more sightings of bears because more people are working from home and seeing more bears that they wouldn’t have previously seen, especially in Manitoba. Also, she said more people are exploring the outdoors in Manitoba leading to more sightings as well.

The other reasons she thinks people are seeing more bears is the drought, which is forcing bears to wander looking for food and water.

“Bears are on the move, going to places where they normally don’t go. So we are having sightings of bears where they aren’t normally seen.”

According to the province, so far this year there have been 1,900 interactions between people and black bears.

Of those incidents, 197 times resulted in the bears being relocated and another 171 incidents involved the bear being killed by either the public or department staff.

A spokesperson for the province noted the way bear numbers are being tracked to previous years has changed. The province would previously record the number of bears in each reported sighting. Now the province is recording per incident even if there is more than one bear during the incident.

If someone stumbles upon a black bear, Stearns is reminding people that the bears are not usually a danger.

“They’re afraid of people. They’re very timid animals and they spoke very easily and they are naturally afraid of humans.”

She added if people make noise or bang metal items together it usually keeps the bears away.

If bears aren’t running from humans, it’s usually because they are used to people, with Stearns saying they would associate people as a source of food or water.

She tells people not to panic when they see a bear and to just walk away from the area.

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