Alan's Message, President Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Be on the Lookout for Bears

3 bears, Armstrong Northwestern OntarioIf you’re driving from Thunder Bay, north to our McKenzie Lake cabins and fly-in base, for your “fix” of nature and of course fishing – keep your cameras handy.  We are getting close to the time of year where you can spot the black bears feeding along highway 527.   Compared to other times of the year, the bears seem to take less notice of passing vehicles as they forage along the shoulders of the road. The more usual encounter of bears along the roads are the fleeting glance of them darting into the bush. If you’re lucky and your timing is just right, you will see as many as 30 bears on your drive north along the remote stretches of Hwy 527. Due to late arrival of spring this year, I would guess the first ten days of June will be the best time to spot bears.

The video above is an entertaining and informative look at bear management in one of Ontario’s Provincial parks taped by Canadian comedian Rick Mercer. The bear population in all of Ontario is hovering just under a 100,000 animals. They follow very predictable patterns each year varying only slightly due to changes in the weather and the environment. The opportunity to see so many bears in a short period of time can be attributed to their lethargic nature after emerging from their dens (a bit like a waking teenager on Saturday morning), combined with the earliest of green vegetation available along the road corridors. At best, black bears only maintain their weight levels at this time of year. Conversely, during blueberry season they can double their weight.

Be sure to have your camera unpacked and available to capture those special moments on your drive north. I have come across the occasional over-friendly bear, on my frequent travels to and from Armstrong. It’s hard to resist the opportunity to get or keep a bear’s attention by throwing food on the road. Bears are very easy to “condition,” in these “food tossing” situations. It’s quite easy for them to become ‘panhandlers.’ Each year a needless number of these bears are hurt or killed on the road. Also, people have been caught off guard and scratched or hurt by their sometimes sudden and swift movements. The bears you encounter on the remote highways probably have a similar demeanor to the bears that call the remote wilderness (around our lodges and outposts) home; unlike the ones we find clawing through the garbage at the local dump; further proof of their very adaptable nature. You can find more information about Ontario’s black bear and how to be “Bearwise” on your upcoming fly-in vacation in the trip planning section of our website.

I have received countless reports over the years, almost exclusively in the spring, about bear sightings along Hwy 527.  For those departing from Nakina (Makokibatan Lodge or Ogoki Lake guests), I would like to learn more about what you have seen along the roads and highways on your travels. If you have stories or pictures of bears, or any wildlife, from your drive north that you would like to share, email me or post on my blog.

For those of you just coming out of hibernation yourself, and haven’t booked your fishing trip yet, give Krista or Meryl a call to discuss dates and availability; we also highlight openings on the Specials Page of our website. We are adding material to our website almost daily, if you press the RSS feed button on the left side you will be updated automatically with the changes.

As always, it’s great to hear from you

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