Wednesday 19 May 2010

Bear Attack- south end of Muskoka

Another man was attacked 5 km away. 

Another Bear Attack in Severn Township

25 May 2010 ... Moose FM CFBG 99.5 - Muskoka, Ontario.

Attack #1 May 19.
Police are searching for a black bear after a man was attacked in Port Severn.
"Marois, 47, is in stable condition at Sunnybrook hospital, where he was taken by air ambulance. The bear ripped apart his legs and left deep gashes on his face and head, his wife said. Doctors have told her he will require plastic surgery."

Before you get your knickers in a knot, this is not TOTALLY abnormal behaviour, but it is HIGHLY unusual. With its 8 million park visitors, Algonquin has only seen two such attacks. It is the far end of the scale for a bear to actually EAT humans, let alone attack them. But while we incarcerate such humans, it is still on the 'normal' end of the scale for bears. They eat a wide variety of food in the wild. Most bear sightings are uneventful. You simply act like a human and they take off, if you don't get between them and cubs and don't surprise them. If they come after you it is not normal, and these latest Muskoka bear attacks are not normal.

During a visit through Algonquin Park I picked up a wonderful book that enlightened me. It is basically the back issues (1893 - 1993) of The Best of The Raven, the park's regular newsletter. (The Friend of *Algonquin Park now produce their newsletters!)

One of the topics it discusses is its two sets of previously fatal bear attacks -1978 and 1991.

One attack in 1978 took 3 boys, and another, 13 years later:

Raymond Jakubauskas, 32, and Carola Frehe, 48, both died on Oct. 11, 1991 on Opeoongo Lake. They were both killed by blows to the head. Their bodies were dragged and partly eaten, partly buried with leaves away from their campsite, which they were in the process of setting up.

Once a bear decides that humans make good food, it is the end. Most bears think that your garbage or your bird feeder provides the better food, if their normal diet of berries are unavailable, and they will return time and again to any evidently sustainable spot. It is normal in animals, as in humans, that something exceptional occurs when a bear eats a human for food. This is something far more complex that a mother bear protecting cubs.

IN AN IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY in Ontario: contact your local police force or dial 911

TO REPORT BEAR PROBLEMS: contact the Bear Reporting Line at:
1-866-514-BEAR (2327) (TTY) 705 945-7641

  • Make garbage and composting inaccessible to wildlife:

    • Use heavy garbage cans with locking lids
    • Fasten lids with bungee cords
    • Put garbage out the morning of pick-up, not overnight
  • Use motion-sensitive floodlights to startle and scare away wildlife
  • Keep pet doors locked at night
  • Do not leave pet food outside overnight
  • Keep BBQ grills clean and close BBQ lids after use
  • Close your doors, screens won't keep them out

The MNR says:

"While black bears will eat carrion, insects, fish, deer and moose calves, the bulk of their diet is plant material. Their natural preference is to find lots of high energy food – like huge berry patches – that will help them fatten up fast. 

To prevent an encounter with a bear:
act like a person, singing is a good idea as you walk, wearing 'bear bells'.

If you spot a black bear:
  • Stay calm. Often the bear is simply passing through
  • Do not run away. Walk slowly backwards towards a building or vehicle and get inside
  • If you have children and pets, bring them inside too
  • Once indoors, observe the bear. Did it move on or did it stay on your property? If the bear stayed, what was it doing or eating?
  • Encourage the bear to leave. Bang pots and pans, or blow an air horn or whistle. The more stressful a bear’s encounter with you, the less likely it is to come back
  • If the bear got food (like garbage or bird food), or if the bear tried to get food, you will need to remove or control the item that attracted the bear
  • Once the bear leaves, remove the attractant and assess your property for other possible attractants like garbage; dirty barbecue; bird or pet food or fruit or berries from your trees or bushes
  • It is possible for a bear to return even though you removed the attractant. Bears do return to places where they have found food. Once the bear does not get food, it will move on
  • If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear will usually come down and leave when it feels safe
Before you leave the cottage:
  • Remove your garbage. Take it home or drop it off at the dump on your way out
  • Use a strong disinfectant to eliminate all odours from garbage and recycling containers and lids
  • Never discard cooking grease outside.
  • Store your BBQ in a secure shed. Make sure it is clean.
  • Do not leave any food or food scraps outdoors for pets or other wildlife
  • When packing up, remember to remove all the food from the inside of your cottage – a box of pudding or fruit-flavoured dessert mix may be all it takes to attract the bear
  • Do not leave scented products outside. Even non-food items like suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap and candles may attract bears
  • Close and lock all windows and doors
  • If you are away for an extended period of time, have a neighbour or someone in the area occasionally do a walk around to look for signs of a bear visitor or break in. Let the person know where and how to contact you
Teachers: teach your these for more info-
Part One |Part Two |Part Three |Part Four
Related Links
For more information, see Wikipedia, which provides some info, but some data is missing. Otherwise, Bear Attacks, by Dr. Herrero, uCalgary, states that there were 26 deaths in North America between 1900 to 1983. (p. 201, (1993) The Best of The Raven)
*The park lies outside Muskoka region, but its flora and fauna are quite similar. In fact, in Algonquin Park, with its 7630 square kilometres of forests, lakes, and rivers, is rife with information. With its 8,000,000 visitors— out camping with food in the wilderness— there have only been two deaths between the years of the newsletter.


Deb said...

Excellent post Jenn. Now to get cottagers who, when they leave on a Sunday night, are lulled into the false sense that their garbage is 'bear proof' in those green metal containers until pick up day during the week.
Sure the bear might not get in it, but it is attracted to the smell. Then, when the bear can't get it open, it'll snoop around the neighbourhood looking for more potential treats.
I can't tell you the number of times I've startled or have been startled during the day or night, by a bear that has been attracted by neighbours garbage inside a bear proof bin.
Here's hoping they've read your post!!!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I can't believe people leave their garbage Sunday night for pick-up later. That's just gross - and stupid.
Oh well.
Great post, Jenn.
Reading about those poor people that were attacked and eaten by bears just gives me the willies. What a horrible way to die. Makes me feel guilty for eating meat.

Anonymous said...

Anytime you enter the woods, there is always a risk of being attacked and killed by a bear, therefore, my philosophy is: NEVER go in the woods without any type of adequate defence, either Bear Spray, a big knife, or even a gun if possible. It can save your life or someone elses. Whenver I go camping, eventhough it is not legal, I always bring my 12 gauge pump loaded with 3 slugs and keep it out of sight and knowledge of others, in case of emergencies.

Jack said...

I paddled on Lake Opeongo two days ago and saw the campsite on Bates Island where the 1991 bear attack took place. There has not been any fatal bear attack in Algonqun Park since then. While camping, I've seen my share of bears, but none of them ever bothered me. However, I do carry a can of bear spray, just in case!

Unknown said...

It has been 40 years but Mark, you are always on my mind. Gone but never forgotten ❤️