Millet, Alta., resident John Norton woke up early this morning with all intentions of enjoying a recorded TV show and a cup of tea.
However at around 5:00 a.m. Norton noticed something ambling down Porter Ave out of the corner of his eye.
Norton says that he thought it was a large dog at first glance, but then he realized, “that is a really big dog.”
Right away he clued in that it was an adolescent black bear, taking his time strolling through the residential area and neighbouring yards before venturing off north towards Highway 616.
“This was the first time for me,” Norton says about seeing the bear up close. He says that all his previous encounters with the animals have been from a distance when in the mountains.
“It’s frickin’ awesome,” he says. “I’m just glad it was not in the afternoon.” A sentiment that many Millet parents agreed on, given that the small town regularly has groups of children walking and biking sans adult to and from the local elementary school.
Norton says the experience, “was surreal.”
This is the second black bear sighting in the County of Wetaskiwin in the past week. The morning of May 26, 2021 a County of Wetaskiwin employee spotted a black bear crossing Highway 13 near Range Road 222.
Given the local sighting the Millet Fire Department has shared bear safety tips for the town.
“Generally speaking, black bear safety is pretty basic stuff,” states a post on the Millet Fire Department’s Facebook page. “While we love welcoming guests to our community, we hope that Bruin is just checking out the Prettiest Little Town in Alberta on his way home.”
Some of these tips include the ‘Six At-Home BearWise Basics’ from BearWise.org:
1. Never feed or approach bears.
2. Secure food, garbage, and recycling.
3. Remove bird feeders when bears are active.
4. Never leave pet food outdoors.
5. Clean and store grills.
6. Alert neighbours to bear activity.
BearWise also advises that although black bears are seldom aggressive and attacks are rare, that there are two ways to handle a situation if you encounter one in person.
If you see a bear before it notices you, it is recommended that you stand still, don’t approach the bear and enjoy the moment before moving away quietly in the opposite direction.
If you encounter a bear that is aware of you the key point is not to run. Running away from a bear may trigger a chase response. It is best to back away slowly in the opposite direction and wait for the bear to leave.