‘Anything can happen,’ with sow and cubs in town’
It’s unlikely anyone will get ticketed for ignoring the Fish & Wildlife tape over the ‘bear trails’ in Slave Lake. But the possibility is out there.
“This is the first year we’ve taken that approach,” says Fish & Wildlife officer Jeremy Lindsey. “It’s a public safety issue.”
Bears always wander along Sawridge Creek during berry season. Tape is put up, traps are set. Most people obey the signs and stay off the trails. But there are always a few who defy the barriers – or even take them down.
“We even had a guy (not this year) standing on top of the trap trying to let the bear out!” says Lindsey.
What’s particularly troublesome this year is the presence of a sow bear with cubs. Single bears are not nearly as much of a safety concern. But “what keeps me awake at night,” Lindsey says, is the notion of a kid coming around a corner of the trail and ending up between the mother bear and its cubs.
“Anything can happen,” he says.
Hence the ban and the threat of violation tickets.
Lindsey says one bear has been trapped and removed. But as many as a half dozen black bears have been identified in and around town in the past week or two. Some on the trails; one by the airport, another by the truckstop. And the usual complicating factors are at play.
“We’ve had some bears get into garbage,” he says. “And there are a lot of apple trees in town. The guy with the crab apple tree is getting more bears than I’m getting (with the baited trap). Bears don’t leave until every apple is eaten.”