bear sighting ontario

Bear sighting forces GTA elementary school into lockdown

Residents of The Greater Toronto Area take note: Somebody just saw a bear near a school in Beaverton, Ontario, which is only an hour or so northeast of Canada's largest city and apparently has its own special protocols in place for such sightings.

The Durham District School Board (DDSB) issued a notice via Twitter Tuesday morning, warning members of the nearly 3,000-person community on the shores of Lake Simcoe about a potentially-dangerous wild animal.

"[Beaverton Public School] is currently under Shelter in Place protocol as a precaution due to a bear sighting in the area," wrote the school board, noting that the Durham Regional Police Service is aware of the sighting.

"School doors will remain locked until the protocol is lifted."

Neither Beaverton Public School nor the school board have issued any updates since around 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, but administrators certainly seem on-the-ball when it comes to keeping kids away from hungry, protective, sick, or otherwise dangerous wild animals.

While we don't see many bears in Toronto outside of the zoo, these sightings appear to happen at least semi-regularly in some other parts of the GTA.

Just last week, on June 6, a community even closer to Toronto than Beaverton — the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville — warned similarly that there had been "sightings of a Black Bear in the area of Bloomington Road & York/Durham Line."

The Ontario government's dedicated "Bear Wise" website advises residents to call 911 if they see a bear that "poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour."

A non-emergency line is operational 24/7 and should be used in situations where bears prove more of a nuisance than a threat, such as breaking into sheds for food, knocking over barbecues for food, checking garbage ccans for food or pulling down bird feeders for food.

"Black bears live throughout most of Ontario," writes the province. "They primarily inhabit forested areas where they are best able to find food, refuge and den sites."

When fully grown, female black bears can weigh up to 300 pounds and male black bears can weigh up to 500 pounds.

"Black bear sizes will vary greatly year over year and depend on the availability of natural foods," reads the bear wise website.

"Black bears are born in their dens in January and remain in hibernation with their mother until spring (around April). At this time, cubs are usually up to 10 pounds, about the size of a house cat... They can grow up to 60 pounds by the time they go into hibernation their first full winter."

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