A Hay River elder has been terrified after a bear apparently tried to enter her home one night while she slept.
Audrey Berens, who lives at the corner of Riverbend Road and Miron Drive, noted that she noticed scratches on the glass of a storm door on Sept. 19 and when she slowly opened the door the glass shattered.
“I was terrified that I had been in the house and the bear was trying to get in,” she said. “That’s what really scared me, because I didn’t even hear him. That was the most scary part.”
Berens believes a bear scratched the glass sometime overnight between Sept. 18 and Sept. 19.
“Oh my God, I panicked,” she recalled upon seeing the glass. “I panicked like you wouldn’t believe.”
However, she also noted that most likely the same bear was in her yard twice before in the previous week, because she had spotted droppings from the animal.
Berens said she doesn’t know why the bear has visited her yard so many times, noting there is no garbage left out to attract the animal.
She has never seen anything like it in Hay River, where she has lived since she was an infant.
“In 60 years, this is the first time I’ve ever had a close encounter like that with a bear,” she said.
A bear has become a common sight in the Miron Drive area over the last several weeks.
Suzanne Hanna, a renewable resource officer with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR), said, while she can’t speak about cases involving individuals, a bear has been around the Miron Drive area for a few weeks.
Hanna said she can’t say if it’s the same bear being seen, although she added, “But I think it may be.”
The ENR official said a bear keeps returning to an area when it has found a really good food source.
However, she noted the Miron Drive bear is not being attracted by garbage and it is not believed that it has gone into any garbage.
Instead, Hanna noted there are “tons of berries” in the area and also fruited trees.
“It’s all natural food sources and I have to say that the people in that area are doing an excellent job of bear-smarting their homes,” she said. “I haven’t seen anybody leaving out garbage.”
Since the bear is not into garbage, ENR is attempting to trap it with the goal of relocating it outside the community.
Two cages have been set up in the area in an attempt to capture the bear.
“We’re trying to live trap the bear, for sure,” said Hanna. “If we are able to do that then we’re definitely going to relocate the bear because it hasn’t got into any garbage or anything like that. But because it’s been around a little bit longer, it’s becoming a little bit more used to people.”
The longer the bear is in the area, the greater the risk that it might have to eventually be destroyed.
Hanna advised people to stay away from the cages since human scents could scare away a bear.
When asked if it is rare for a bear to try to enter a home, Hanna said, “It’s not uncommon that a bear would become curious and take a look through people’s windows.”
She noted bears will soon be heading for hibernation, in October for sure.
“So right now they’re into their bear fall feeding and they’re just trying to pack on the weight and consume as much calories as they can to survive hibernation,” she explained.
Berens is hoping that ENR will capture the bear.
“I’m really hoping that they’re going to move that bear out of here,” she said. “Because you know what I’m really afraid of is that this bear may have claimed this as his territory.”
In the meantime, Mayor Brad Mapes, who lives near Berens, has given her a can of bear spray.
Mapes noted that the bear was in his backyard late last week.
“My wife sent me a video of the bear picking at our tree,” he said.
Mapes is also hoping that ENR can capture the bear.
“It’s too tame. It’s obviously not afraid of the surroundings and all that,” he said. “And ENR has been attempting to trap it without any success. It is concerning because you’ve got a lot of people using our trails.”
On Sept. 20, ENR issued a Facebook advisory about the bear.
“Renewable resource officers are undertaking all reasonable efforts to address the situation,” the advisory stated. “Officers currently have two live bear traps set and are attending every call received. Officers are developing an additional plan of action to remove this bear as quickly as possible. Public safety is our top priority.”
ENR advised residents of the area to not take matters into their own hands, unless they are in immediate danger of attack.
ENR’s Emergency Wildlife Line can be reached at 875-7640. The line is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.