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Are Ontario wildfires displacing animals?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023


NORTH DURHAM: At the end of June, there was a moose sighting in Lindsay, and there have been recent black bear sightings around the Pickering area.

While these sightings may have been caused by animals fleeing the wildfires in northern Ontario, it’s difficult to say for certain.

“It is highly unlikely the moose sighting in Lindsay and the bear seen in Pickering resulted from forest fires in northern and central Ontario,” said Marcela Mayo, corporate communications officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

According to her, the Ontario moose population extends into the Lindsay area, and there is a “low-density” population of black bears in the northern areas of York and Durham Regions.

However, as bears move south, they may wander into urban areas like Pickering, Uxbridge and other small towns and cities. She said it is not unusual to see a black bear in Pickering, during this time of year, when their food supply becomes limited.

Mr. Donald, with the Ontario Wildlife Rescue, stated, although some people may consider it a “privilege” to see these animals within their community, it can cause a huge problem.

“Moose are huge animals,” said Mr. Donald. Even a baby moose is fairly large. “When they get into urban areas, the biggest problem is, they get spooked and... run into stuff.” This may result in people getting injured or the destruction of vehicles and infrastructure. It may also cause harm to the animal itself.

“These guys are losing their territories,” explained Ms. Lenters, founder and board president of Shades of Hope Wildlife Rescue in Pefferlaw. She believes we are seeing more wildlife because of habitat loss, possibly due to construction.

If you see a moose or a bear in an urban area, maintain a safe distance away from the animal.

If the animal poses a personal threat or a danger to the public, please contact the Bear Wise reporting line, at 1-866-514-2327.

For more information, you can also visit the Bear Wise page, on the Government of Ontario website,

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