It’s estimated there are approximately 43,000 bears in Saskatchewan at the moment.
This summer there have been reports of a bear entering a home in northern Saskatchewan, a bear attacking a runner and a bear hanging around a schoolyard. The government has said this could be due to a variety of factors, including a late spring that saw the berry crop come in later than normal, which may have lead to bears wandering from usual feeding areas into new areas to find food.
Locally, as reported by news correspondent Lorna Pearson of Meota, Eugene Lacey, who lives north of the city of North Battleford, had two bear encounters recently.
On Saturday, Sept. 5, he was working in his orchard in the late evening when he heard a noise in the shelter belt. A bear stepped out, about 25 yards away, stood up, sniffing and growling and waving his paws. He stood over six feet tall. Lacey didn’t stick around for more details, but ran to the house.
On the following Tuesday he was again in the orchard picking fruit when a disturbance was heard nearby. This time the bear came out growling and snapping his jaws and Lacey again fled the scene. Along the way, however, he tripped on a rake in the yard and twisted his ankle. Lucky for him, the bear went the other direction.
A neighbour, Stan Iverson, and a friend came over later with their drone and scouted the area but didn’t find the bear or any signs that he was still around. No doubt the bear wanted the orchard to himself, as he prepares for winter hibernation.
Further north, two young families camping together at Flotten Lake - one in a tent and one in a trailer - were disturbed from their sleep by a bear over the long weekend.
The mother of the family in the tent awoke around dawn Sunday, Sept. 6, to see a bear pushing on the side of their tent. She immediately began hollering, but the bear kept pushing and its claws could be seen coming through the fabric just above where one of the two children was sleeping. By now, the dad was awake and joined in making noise in hopes of scaring the bear off, but it was still pushing on the tent. At one point the mom saw its snout coming through the tear in the tent, so she punched it as hard as she could.
The bear got the message and retreated, but when she peeked out, the mom saw a big mother sow and two yearling cubs. It was one of the cubs she had punched.
By now the family in the camper had joined into the noise making with pots and pans, which they all continued until the bears eventually departed.
One recent bear encounter ended in tragedy, as 44-year-old Stephanie Blais of Edam was killed when her family was staying at the family cabin in the forest north of the community of Buffalo Narrows on Aug. 20.