Newfoundland polar bear sighting updates and video

Here is a Youtube video of the incident I wrote about on Tuesday, of the bear that climbed up on an elderly woman’s house in St. Anthony last Sunday and then confronted her when she opened the door.

Statements from local officials included with a follow-up news report of the incident confirms that there were indeed no polar bear sightings along the Labrador coast in 2020 and 2021 and few (if any) along the Newfoundland coast: it wasn’t just a case of reports not making the news. In addition, it also appears that sea ice conditions this year brought an abundance of harp seal pups to the waters off southern Labrador and Newfoundland, which may mean that pregnant harp seals were giving birth further north for the past two years and the Davis Strait bears were simply staying with them.

From a CTV News report (14 April 2022), my bold:

If it weren’t for her neighbour’s home security camera, Bobbi Stevens would have had no idea the polar bear she saw Sunday evening had just come down from her roof.

The 78-year-old St. Anthony, N.L., resident said she was more excited than scared after she opened her front door to find the bear almost close enough to touch. But when she saw video footage of the animal on her roof just before she opened the door, Stevens said she realized just what could have happened.

“After I watched the video, I had to lie down for a while,” she said. “I’m so glad I didn’t know about it when he was up there. The roof is not very strong, and the bear is very heavy.” …

The animals are from the Davis Strait population, provincial wildlife officials said in an email Tuesday, and they’re likely heading back north after a winter of feasting on seals out on the sea ice. The bear sightings this year are perfectly normal, they added, noting they receive 30 to 60 reports of polar bear sightings a year.

Two bears have wandered onto Fogo Island this spring, the community’s mayor said in an interview Tuesday. “We haven’t had that much sea ice in the last few years, but this year apparently the ice is really heavy and there seems to be a lot of seals on it,” Mayor Andrew Shea said. “I guess they came with the seals.”

Wildlife officials tranquilized and caged the second bear last week and shipped it off the island on the ferry, Shea said. The animal was taken up to St. Anthony, where it could head safely back north on the ice.

Jeffrey Keefe figures at least 16 bears have shown up in his southern Labrador community of Black Tickle this spring. He works with the Canadian Rangers as the town’s polar bear guard, so he’s in charge of getting them out of town and back on the ice.

“If they’re eating good and they’re in good shape, they’re not much of a trouble,” Keefe said in an interview Tuesday. “You can bawl out at them loud or tap your hands together, normally you’ll startle them and they’ll run.”

Sometimes, Keefe will have to get a few people together to chase them off with their snowmobiles. He said changing sea ice conditions over the past several years have made their arrival unpredictable, and there weren’t any bears the past two years.

Comments are closed.