MUSKOKA - Another bear sighting has been reported in cottage country.
GUESS WHO’S COMING FOR DINNER?.
Reader Michael Bosley sent in this picture of a recent visitor to his cottage.
Muskoka cottager Michael Bosley came face to face with a large bear at his Torrance cottage on Friday, July 27 and sent this newspaper the results of his close-range Ridge Road encounter. Bosley’s sighting comes amid a string of other wildlife sightings that have been reported both within Bracebridge and in the surrounding region.
Bosley said the bear, which he estimates to be about 10 feet in height, was moseying around on a veranda at the side of his cottage at around 4 p.m. when they met.
“I was just kind of standing in the doorway when he appeared, and we were literally four to six feet apart,” he said. “I think he was eyeing the barbecue.”
Bosley was particularly shocked to see the bear as he said he keeps his barbecue “meticulously” clean just to avoid such situations.
“He scared me and I scared him, I backed into the cottage,” he said. “My camera happened to be on the kitchen island and he went up the nearest tree. And then I fired off a few shots and I think the noise from the shutter might have scared him.”
The bear then took off from his property.
Knowing his neighbours were expected to have grandchildren over, he quickly called them to make sure little ones were kept inside. Though he has seen bears before in Muskoka, Bosley has never seen one that close.
“I called the Ministry of Natural Resources, and they said that because of the lack of rain and the dryness and the lack of food, the bears are somewhat more aggressive this year,” he said. “It’s unusual that they would come right up onto the veranda.”
Just weeks before Bosley’s run-in, police in Bracebridge shooed away a young bear that was feeding from a bird feeder it toppled in a yard near Taylor Road and Cedar Lane. Other readers have also reported seeing bears over the past two months, including one that visited the Pines Long Term Care Home and another in the High Falls Road area. One Huntsville senior was terrorized by repeated bear visits on Ravenscliffe Road in early June, and another bear visit startled a Port Sandfield woman at her property in early July.
The region’s populated areas have also seen a greater number of visits from other forms of wildlife. Two weeks ago, neighbours near Camp Shalom in Gravenhurst reported seeing what they thought was a wild cat, though it was nowhere to be found when police were notified. Last month, a series of cougar sightings in Utterson culminated in a fatal attack on one family’s German shepherd.
This year, the Ministry of Natural Resources has suffered a number of cutbacks that reduced its number of bear technicians from 48 to 21 in 15 communities across the province. Because the ministry is now focusing more on public education than on intervening in bear encounters, the onus of dealing with wildlife is increasingly falling on the shoulders of local police.
Bracebridge OPP Insp. Ed Medved said he has been working to secure specialized tools used by ministry staff for his officers to help deal with wildlife.
Police have also reminded residents to be mindful of “bear food” they could inadvertently be leaving out, and to keep a good distance away from bears if they are spotted. Bear encounters can be reported to the province’s bear reporting line at 1-866-514-2327, or police at 705-645-8771. In life-threatening emergencies, residents are encouraged to call 911.