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Nova Scotia girl climbs tree to escape bear

A young black bear seen in Colchester County.
A young black bear seen in Colchester County, Nova Scotia. - -File photo

On Sunday the North River Volunteer Fire Department carried out a dramatic and unusual rescue.

“A young girl got treed by a bear and the RCMP figured they were 30 minutes away so they paged us out,” said John MacKay, second deputy chief of the rural Colchester County department.

“They wanted our trucks and lights and sirens to buy some time.”

According to MacKay, the girl had gone for a walk from the cabin where she had been staying with friends, near the Old Nuttby Road, when she encountered a bear. To escape the animal, she climbed a tree and called 911 from her cellphone.

The call came in without an exact location, other than that it was in an area with cabins around Nuttby Mountain.

MacKay was five minutes away and responded with lights and sirens in his personal vehicle, as other members came with fire trucks in an effort to scare the bear away while they searched for the girl.

“There are a few of us familiar with the area and we sent members all over making noise,” said MacKay.

He and Cyril Smith found the young woman about five metres up a tree.

Smith climbed the tree to guide her down while MacKay broke off branches.

While they saw fresh bear tracks in the area, none of the department’s members laid eyes on the animal.

MacKay said other than some scratches from climbing the tree, the young woman was in good health and they were able to return her to the nearby cabin.

“This would be right up there for abnormal calls,” said MacKay.

“We were called once on a public assistance to find keys thrown in a tree in a domestic dispute. You get in the fire service to help, so you get all kinds.”

The bears have been busy this spring.

Last Tuesday, the staff at Inglis Jewellers in downtown Truro checked their security video footage and saw that a bear had strolled down the street past the store at around 2 a.m.

It wasn’t a first for the central Nova Scotian town, which has had numerous black bear incursions over the past two years.

“We have a healthy bear population,” said Mike Boudreau, a human wildlife conflict biologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

“Other than a few areas of this province, they are everywhere.”

So if you’re walking in the woods or even, it would appear downtown Truro, know that there could be bears around.

Also know that while all they are thinking about after a long winter’s nap is food, they don’t consider you to be food.

This time of year they’re eating grass, fresh buds and whatever they can scavenge — be it a deer carcass or the leftovers in your compost bin.

Boudreau’s warning is twofold. Be noisy when walking in the woods. That might mean singing or wearing a bell.

Also, as homeowners, don’t leave food out that can attract the animals.

“Once you get a problem with them coming by your home to scavenge, you need to go over and above — wash out that green bin and get rid of your bird feeder,” said Boudreau.

“If it’s a female with cubs, she has just taught them that your green bin is the number-two spot to start in the springtime.”

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