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OPS Bargaining 2012: Bears dropped on cops

OPS Bargaining 2012: Bears dropped on cops

We the North
We the North
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By LAURA STRICKER, THE SUDBURY STAR

By cancelling its Bear Wise program, the Ministry of Natural Resources has essentially downloaded bear relocation to Sudbury, leaving it in the hands of police officers who don"t know what to do when one comes calling, Police Chief Frank Elsner said.

Elsner was at Tuesday"s city council meeting to support the purchase of a new radio communications system for police, fire and transit services, which was approved by council.

While Elsner was at the meeting, Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume asked about the nuisance bear problem that has been plaguing Sudbury.

"(Police) are responding to about five bear calls a day, but get many more calls than that," Elsner said, adding officers respond to the calls only when a situation is "life-threatening."

So far, Greater Sudbury Police have had to euthanize one bear — except they don"t have training for that either.

On May 1, the Ministry of Natural Resources scrapped its trap and relocate program, arguing that the program was ineffective.

Now, it only gives advice on how to scare bears away and make residences bear-proof.

Elsner did not hear about the cancellation from the MNR, instead he found out about it through the media.

Since then, there have been a number of bear sightings throughout Greater Sudbury.

On Saturday, a bear cub almost suffocated after being tied to a cable ground wire in Garson. Police are searching for the person responsible.

Also on Saturday, there were reports of a group of kids in New Sudbury chasing and taunting another bear cub.

"People are going out there, harassing, confronting bears and doing all kinds of ridiculous things," said Elsner. "It puts people in harm"s way."

The program cancellation is a "poor decision from a safety perspective," said Elsner.

"Police services are already taxed … it"s really starting to affect us."