By all accounts Wesleyville's latest visitor is in town for a bit of fun and adventure, but the RCMP remind people of the danger posed by a visit by one of Canada's largest predators.
“He was just sort of lingering around the islands for awhile, it attracted a fair amount of crowd, people wanting to take pictures of the bear and see the bear,” said Cpl. Kimball Vardy of the RCMP’s New Wes Valley Detachment. “He was just out there playing around sliding on the snow, having a bit of fun for himself.”
The sight of the playful polar bear attracted lots of attention from local residents. Jessica Andrews lives in Wesleyville and first heard news of the bear while at work, and eagerly tracked its progress throughout the day.
“I knew there was a posting on the classifieds that there was polar bear spotted,” said Andrews. “I was kind of looking out at work, couldn’t see him, so I went home after work, went inside, got the binoculars, looked through them, couldn’t see him.”
After searching for a while, Andrews says she had to take her dog’s outside, and that’s when she heard some yelling.
“There was a guy across the road and I could hear him say ‘look he’s up on the rocks,” said Andrews. “So I ran back in and got the binoculars and for two hours until he disappeared I was in the spyglasses looking through them, and I was just beyond amazed.”
By nightfall however, the bear entered the water and began to make its way to shore. Headed towards Wesleyville, as Vardy and other residents keenly watched its progress.
“At one point he struck land just on the back of a persons house,” said Vardy. “I was there and I managed to scare the bear away, back out into the water and he didn’t show again until this morning.”
Vardy says the bear is still out on the islands, the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Wildlife Division visited the town to monitor the bear overnight. Officers from the department will be returning again this morning to try and determine the best course of action to remove the bear. For now the RCMP are asking residents to exercise caution and avoid the animal.
“It doesn’t seem to be hunting right now, it seems to be more of a curious bear, that’s sort of exploring the area,” said Vardy. “But we are reminding people to stay away from the bear, don’t get to close to it. If you’re going to observe the bear, do it from a distance.”
Vardy also says should the bear enter the town again residents are asked to avoid any contact with the animal, and to contact the RCMP at 709-536-2419. Sightings can also be reported to the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Wildlife Division at 709-258-5334.