A black bear that’s been wandering across Lambton County this summer has been spotted as far west as Camlachie.
Ron Nauta said a neighbour photographed the bear ambling through a vegetable garden on Hyslop Line on June 20. When Nauta posted the image on Facebook it drew hundreds of comments from alarmed and surprised residents.
“I’ve been there 52 years and I’ve never seen one there,” he said.
The Ministry of Natural Resources received reports of at least 16 bear sightings in Lambton County in June, all most likely of the same black bear, a spokesperson said.
Sightings as well as photos and video of the animal were taken in Grand Bend, Port Franks, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and Ipperwash Beach.
“Bear sightings in Southwestern Ontario are not common, but we do get one to two sightings yearly,” said Ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski.
“We believe this bear likely traveled south from the Owen Sound area, Bruce Peninsula or Midhurst area, or possibly even further north.”
Lambton County has little forest cover and few natural food sources for a bear. As a result, those that stray this far south are drawn to garbage and bird feeders offering suet, seeds and nectar. They are also drawn to the odours from barbeques and ripe fruit left on trees and the ground.
Removing attractive smells can help keep bears away from populated areas, the ministry said. Bears will leave an area when they can’t find enough to eat from garbage or other sources.
Natural Resources operates a toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327, which is open 24/7 from April to November.
Residents are asked to call 911 only if a bear is posing an immediate threat to public safety or shows aggressive behaviour.
A black bear also ventured into Lambton County in 2016. It was first spotted in Lambton Shores in early June and wandered as far south as Sombra, where it spent some time in the Darcy McKeough floodway.
A bear that was struck and killed by an SUV in Poplar Hill west of London on July 8 of that year may have been the same animal.
Black bears were native to Lambton County until the mid-19th century when the last few were shot and the forests cleared for farmland.