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Polar bears late June visits to St. Anthony unusual

A polar bear spotted in St. Lunaire-Griquet on June 10. - Photo courtesy of Joan Blake
A polar bear spotted in St. Lunaire-Griquet on June 10. - Photo courtesy of Joan Blake

Department of Fisheries and Land Resources theorizes why bears still around so late into the season

ST. ANTHONY, N.L. – In the past week, polar bears have made more surprise appearances in the town of St. Anthony.

The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources have received notifications of polar bears in the St. Anthony area on June 21, 23 and 24.

One polar bear was seen at Fishing Point Park and more recently another was seen with a cub walking along Goose Cove Road.

According to Fisheries and Land Resources, it is uncommon for polar bears to be on the island in late June.

“Most bears would have begun the trek back north prior to June,” read a statement to The Northern Pen.

The bears can only go as far south as the winter ice conditions permit. They drift south with the ice flows as they search for seals.

What’s unusual is for a bear to be this far south, this late in the season.

“Pack ice concentrations would have melted or dissipated off the coast of Newfoundland by now giving question of how long the bear may have swam to reach land,” said Fisheries and Land Resources.

The department suggests another possible theory, that the bear made landfall somewhere else and was only detected recently.

“For example, bears have been observed to take refuge on coastal islands, particularly in Labrador, and these bears may have done similar before trekking back northward.”

The department encourages residents to take appropriate steps to avoid an encounter with polar bears.

“This includes being aware of your surroundings, keeping pets inside or under close supervision, travelling in groups when possible, never approaching a fresh kill or carcass, and adhering to the proper storage, collection and disposal of garbage to avoid attracting bears into communities and backyards,” a June 21 public advisory stated.

Under no circumstances should residents approach a polar bear.

Anyone sighting a polar bear is asked to contact the local District Forestry and Wildlife Office in St. Anthony at 709-454-8435 or 709-457-7243 after regular office hours.

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