Bears are known to be more active around people in late fall as food sources diminish. Some speculate that an increase in sightings early this year could be due to the global pandemic. There have been fewer people out and about; in result, bears may be emboldened to explore areas they would typically avoid, but there is yet to be solid data to back this claim.
Increasing interactions with black bears may spark fears and anxiety for many in the province; however, if proper precautions are taken, bears pose little risk to us. In fact here in Nova Scotia, a local woman from West Dalhousie has fostered a kinship with the bears that have moved into her back yard.
While examples such as the bears in West Dalhousie show we can co-exist peacefully with them, there is no denying a troubling aspect of their new presence: these bears that frequent her yard, arrived after land that was once densely forested behind her home was subjected to a new logging operation.
All over the province, bears are losing their homes, so they push their boundaries into agricultural areas and cottage country, some reaching as far as the Halifax counties. When called, the Department of Natural Resources will relocate a “problem” bear to a more rural area. There are several issues with this method, however. The land where the bear is released may already be the territory of another bear or may not have adequate food supply. Nova Scotia’s small fragmented habitats mean merely crossing from one forested area to the next often requires crossing roads and passing through urban areas, or farmland.
It is becoming clear that as we continue to develop into their habitat, bear sightings will increase. Moving forward, the best we can do for them and for ourselves is to improve their habitat conservation, as well as prepare ourselves for an encounter.