Hay River residents have reported several bear sightings this summer and the municipality is asking people to ensure that garbage is locked away in a shed or garage until the morning of garbage day.

Deborah Stanley, said she and her husband Ross spotted a black bear by video surveillance creeping between their vehicles at their residence on Cameron Crescent just before midnight on Aug. 15.

“There has been a lot of bear activity this summer and I’m not sure if it is because of the wetness in the bush and that they’re foraging for food,” she said. “There have been been a couple spotted around the 553 area all summer, but Sunday was the first time we have even seen one in our area this summer.”

She said she had first heard a noise on her property shortly before the video surveillance went off closer to midnight.

“I asked my husband if he heard the noise and shortly afterward, the video surveillance went off,” Deborah said. “He went outside and came back and said there was a bear in our yard.”

She said she called her neighbour who has berries in his backyard and pointed out to him that the bear had been between their homes before heading into a nearby ravine. She also contacted the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources but as of Monday afternoon hadn’t received a response.

“He (the bear) looked like a good size and he was walking by my Jeep and between the vehicles,” she said. “He was a bit bigger than the quad in terms of height.”“

Stanley said that neighbours are leery this year after a woman was attacked by a bear last year in the same residential area of 553 but on Cranberry Crescent.

“It is not the first summer that they’ve been around and when I have picked cranberries on the walking trail, I’ve seen them by the river there during the day,” she said.

“It is usually at this time of the year when you see them when the berries are ripe.”

Another person in town, who asked not to be named, said they saw a bear walking on the tarmac of the main terminal at around 7:45 a.m. on Aug. 16.

The person said they believe it is the same bear spotted in the 553 residential area.

“It was one of the biggest bears I’ve ever seen,” said the person.

“I’m a traditional person and all of these bear sightings lately are due to water levels being high in the bush. They are probably into town to fatten up for the winter because it is a lot easier to hunt here.”

The person said that if people avoided planting berries in their yards, there likely wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

“It seems so strange to me that people would plant Saskatoon bushes in their yards and then wonder why the bears are there,” said the person. “It’s especially not a smart thing when you’re living by the river.

“Bears can smell a sunflower seed within 25 miles.”

The Town of Hay River issued a statement on its Facebook page on Aug. 16 asking residents to take proper care of their garbage as per town bylaws.

“With the amount of bears coming into town we are asking to make sure your garbage is locked away in a shed or garage until the morning of garbage day as per Bylaw 619, section 8b),” reads the statement.

Messages were left with the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Town of Hay River on Monday.

No responses were available as of press time.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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