Time to be bear wise

Note: with the arrival of warmer weather the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ontario Provincial Police issued the following bulletin on April 7:

Public should exercise caution as bears come out of hibernation

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) remind you to exercise caution as black bears begin to come out of hibernation this spring.

Bears waking up from hibernation are faced with a scarcity of natural food sources, leading them to look for food in garbage cans and bird feeders.

You can prevent bears from visiting your home and neighbourhood by:

  • Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids (indoors if possible)
  • Waiting until the day of garbage pickup to put out garbage
  • Putting away bird feeders for the spring (you can offer birds natural alternatives, such as flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water)
  • Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use
  • Keeping pet food indoors

Who should you call

Bears that enter your community are not necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call if you encounter a bear. For non-emergencies, the province operates a toll-free Bear Wise reporting line (1-866-514-2327). The line is open 24/7 from April 1 to November 30. If a bear is posing an immediate threat by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, remain calm and call 911 or your local police department.

Non-Emergency encounters

Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641) if a bear is:

  • Moving through a backyard or field but is not lingering
  • Roaming around the neighbourhood
  • Checking garbage cans
  • Breaking into a shed where garbage or food is stored
  • Knocking over a barbecue
  • Pulling down a bird feeder
  • In a tree

This line operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 to November 30. Staff can provide advice about bear behaviour, how to avoid human-bear interactions and how to manage attractants on your property.

Emergency Situations

Call 911 or your local police force if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety. Some threatening or aggressive behaviours include:

  • Entering a school yard when school is in session
  • Stalking people and lingering on-site
  • Entering or trying to enter a residence
  • Wandering into a public gathering
  • Killing livestock/pets and lingering on site.

Police are first responders for any emergency situation. If requested by police, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry may respond to emergency situations to assist during daylight hours.

Visit ontario.ca/bearwise for tips on how to prevent human-bear encounters and avoid attracting bears.

MNRF Media Desk, Minister’s Office, OPP Media Relations(2021,Apr.7) Be Bear Wise and Prevent Bear Encounters [media release]

photo bearwise.org

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