MNR attempts to trap Mulmur bear

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Debbie Gray said she had heard through the grapevine that there was a bear in the area but didn’t think too much of it until the bear destroyed beekeeping equipment and broke into a chicken coop.

She and husband Jeff Chalmers operate Heritage Bee Company at their Mulmur property. 

“We had just moved all of our honey [boxes] outside for storage which is standard protocol in Ontario and the one stack was knocked over,” said Gray. 

She suspected it might be a bear so they set up a trail camera.

“The next night we heard the most horrific sounds coming from the chicken coop,” she said. “We ran out. It was awful.”

Gray describes the scene as carnage, with chickens killed and eaten and their rooster being so badly injured that it had to be put down.

The bear had ripped through the chicken coop, which Gray describes as iron clad. It is built like a home with insulation and cement pad, to get to the chickens. “The bear managed to rip one of the wall sections off anchors in concrete,” she said.

It was all caught on the trail cam. The bear had torn apart beehive frames. They have footage of the bear coming right up on the porch and came to the door.

Gray contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and at first they said they wouldn’t trap it and that the only option was to deter it or have the bear killed. Being non-hunters, they would have to find someone else to do it.

In the meantime, they cleaned up the property, rebuilt the chicken coop and bought electric fencing. But the bear came back Tuesday night. Whereas it is normal for a bear to eat what it can find on its way to its winter den, this bear is becoming a nuisance. 

Gray said it has been a difficult and confusing ordeal because she needs to protect the hives and her chickens but on the other hand, doesn’t want the bear killed. 

On Wednesday, a crew from the MNRF decided to come to out and set a live trap.

They spent Wednesday afternoon baiting a trap with honey, marshmallows, Jello mix, and vanilla extract. 

At this time of year, bear are loading up on calories to build up fat stores to get them through hibernation. The concern is that the bear’s behaviour is a bit problematic and is now aware of a tempting food source. 

Because Gray and Chalmers are professional beekeepers, they can’t remove the food source and the bear may not move along on its own.

The MNRF evaluates trapping bears on a case-by-case basis because relocation has proven to be largely ineffective. Research confirms that many relocated bears often return to the areas from which they were removed.

This bear is a candidate for relocation because, based on available images, it appears to be a juvenile and may relocate with success. It would be released in a remote area where there is sufficient habitat and natural food sources. 

If the bear is relocated and comes back, there is still a chance it may have to be euthanized, said Gray. 

This fall, several bear sightings have been reported to The Creemore Echo. In September a bear was seen in the Mad River in Creemore, then this month a bear tried to get into a home in Mulmur, breaking the screen door, and another reader shared security camera footage of a bear but no damage was caused. Other stories of close encounters are circulating in the community of Mulmur.

It is possible they are all accounts of this particular bear.

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