Mike McIntosh, of Bear With Us shared his knowledge and experience working with black bears (bears) with an enthusiastic audience at Heartland Forest Friday evening. Folks from across southern Ontario braved frigid temperatures and snow drifts to attend this educational event. Krista Galati, a volunteer at Bear With Us Sanctuary was on hand to film the informative discussion.
Also featured were ten interesting paintings by artist Jaswinder Singh to compliment the evening venue. The night went by so quickly as the audience took in the sacred secrets about the lives of bears through one compassionate man’s eyes.
Understanding Ursus americanus is key to peaceful and sustainable coexistence.
Listening to the stories Mike shared about the work behind the Bear With Us Sanctuary (BWUS), it was clear what the BWUS goals are. These critical goals include the Three R’s: Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release. With the bears he has helped along the way, returning bears to their “fence-free” life really hit home as the ultimate success story. When facts and compassionate conservation are front and center in communities, and appreciating how unique and specialized bears are in terms of their survival needs and family dynamics, one can admire the important service Mike, Krista and the BWU Team provide not just for bear rehabilitation, but for promoting education and awareness about bears and their relationship with people.
Energy output for bears is all about food foraging and consumption in preparation for the months ahead during the colder winter season and leaving the winter den in search of nuts in the spring. Accumulating enough calories from berry crops to sustain each bear during their “sleep time” is truly a fundamental basis for the foraging patterns of bears and why we may see more in our “urbanscapes” when those berry crops are scarce. Sleep time. Rest time. Birthing time. One interesting and cool fact about bears: Bears do not really hibernate. They are aware of our presence. So please consider this the next time you see evidence of a bear den. It is not nice and not wise to interrupt the privacy of bears. Males, or a mom and her cub(s) are put at risk of being frightened and disturbed when we are selfish enough to interfere with their den.
Having the opportunity to learn and understand about bear ecology and why they behave they way they do, makes it even more difficult to fathom why our Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources would ever gut the Bear Wise programme. The success of this educational community response initiative to promote coexistence between people and bears was instrumental in providing the staffing for outreach to support the presence of bears in a community. Prevention, wildlife proofing and the enforcement of municipal by-laws are the most effective tools to partner with any bear education efforts. The Bear Wise programme offered these strategies when it was alive and thriving.
Mike ended the evening reminding the audience of how residents can help Ontario bears. The spring bear hunt pilot project begins this spring and Ontario residents are strongly encouraged to comment on the EBR. For more information about bear coexistence and facts behind the spring bear hunt please visit: http://bearwithus.org/
Coyote Watch Canada had the opportunity to speak with several members of the audience the next day to find out what their take home messages were from the evening. This is what they had to share:
“Bears are not the dangerous monsters they are portrayed to be. The anecdotal story Mike told about the “nuisance bear” who broke into the chicken coop and rather than attacking/killing/eating the chickens he grabbed the quick-fast easy meal the chicken scratch offered.” Pam H.
“I really enjoyed Mike’s presentation at Heartland and the stories that he shared about these beautiful black bears. There is so much misinformation out there, lucky for us Mike is here to set the story straight.” Jasmine P.
Special mention and thank you to our wonderful set up crew that included Jack, Lucas, Paul, Quintin and Amy! Heartland Forest had a hot food/drink canteen available to the public thanks to Elisabeth Graham, Executive Director. Amy Brunning, Forest Discovery Program Coordinator worked behind the scenes and during set up to ensure the evening ran smoothly. Thank you Heartland Forest for your continued partnership and commitment towards providing wildlife education for our community.
Visit Animal Alliance to learn more about the spring bear hunt.