Over the weekend, residents in the Lac Pelletier area were in for quite a shock after a black bear was spotted roaming nearby. 

The spotting was reported to conservation officers who attended the location; however, they were unable to locate the animal. 

Matthew Tokaruk, black bear biologist with the Ministry of Environment, said that although it is unusual to see such wildlife in the area, it's not uncommon for bears to be on the move this time of year. 

“This time of year, it's not unusual to have animals dispersing,” he explained. “They're traveling to new home ranges and then they can cover a lot of miles. Bears in particular can cover a lot of miles. I would say it is generally unusual to have bear sightings in the southwest, though like I said, this time of year with dispersing individuals, nothing will surprise me sometimes.” 

Tokaruk added that while it’s always important for people to be cautious of encountering bears throughout Saskatchewan, he does not think it’s likely that the animal will make itself too comfortable in the southwest. 

“Of course, we want folks to always be conscious of bears in Saskatchewan,” he said. “Bears are present in a lot of the province where there's good habitat, by that, I mean tree covered, though as I said this time of year with dispersing individuals, sometimes they can show up in other areas. So, we would always want folks to be aware of wildlife and they can be around. 

“We don't think it poses any particular concern to the area or any changes to the area. It's likely just an individual kind of just wandering.” 

As for a second black bear sighting over the weekend, in the Frontier area, Tokaruk stated that it’s quite possibly the same bear spotted near Lac Pelletier. 

It is possible it's the same bear, especially if it's really traveling, that is possible,” he said. Though it's pretty hard to tell from a photograph, to be able to identify individual bears is tough.” 

If you do happen to come across a bear, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe. 

“If people do encounter a bear, keep your distance, don't try and scare the animal, rather just make a wide detour or back away,” Tokaruk explained. “Speak to the bear and kind of in low tones, but don't look directly at it. You can raise your hands a bit and say, ‘hey bear’ and let it know you’re there as you back away. And typically, that's you know that's where the encounter ends as that animal will often want to go the other direction as well.” 

On the rare occasion that a bear does approach you, drop an object such as a backpack or jacket to distract the animal and seek shelter in a nearby building or car. 

If the bear continues to approach, use bear spray before the animal has a chance to make contact. 

Tokaruk further expressed that it is highly unlikely for a black bear to approach humans. 

Other important factors in keeping bears away include keeping picnic areas, garbage, and barbeques clean and tidy. 

If you encounter a bear and feel as though there is a public safety risk, phone the poachers and polluters line at 1-800-667-7561, the inquiry line at 1-800-567-4224 or e-mail center.inquiry@gov.sk.ca.