Although reports of bear scat and sightings are popping up on social media, Alberta Fish and Wildlife says they have not confirmed the presence of a bear in our area.

District Fish and Wildlife Officer Len Lupyczuk says they're investigating the reports but have found no evidence so far that would indicate there's a bear hanging around Okotoks.

"We've heard rumours of bear scat, it's been on social media and we've had phone calls about it," Lupyczuk says. "I actually went out and looked and we've only found coyote and deer scat right now. Apparently there have been reports of sightings."

But he adds that just because they haven't located evidence so far, it is not far-fetched that a bear could be travelling through our area, especially at this time of year, when backyard  food sources can be plentiful. Because of that, he adds the possibility exists that there is a bear around, but they have not been able to confirm it.

"We're lucky to live along the river, here in Alberta, where there's lots of wildlife," he explains. "And we've got plenty of apples and fruit trees around, so wildlife anywhere from deer or coyotes and moose and bears and birds will be using our backyards as a place to find food and refuge."

He advises picking tree fruit and storing it away, before it becomes overripe and falls to the ground, in order to help deter wildlife from seeking out those backyard food sources.

Lupyczuk says there's no doubt the reports of the presence of a bear are well-intentioned by those concerned about the safety of their community and neighbours.

"I think the rumours are because people try to protect each other, which is a good thing," he says. "Somebody sees bear scat and they want everybody to be safe and that's an honourable thing. But we also have to be careful of causing too much panic in those types of situations."

Lupyczuk adds that, due to the presence of a variety of wildlife in our region, including moose with calves and deer with fawns, it's always a good idea to travel in groups and keep pets under control when heading out to parks or walking in green space areas.

Reports of bear scat, sightings of bears or any other wildlife that could be considered a problem can be reported to Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

"People need to understand that, in order to confirm it, we will be asking questions," he says. "We're in the business of making sure and confirming it so that we can do proper action on it. I'm okay with people calling, they need to be aware that we will be asking questions to help try and confirm it."

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