MNRF, OPP share safety tips as bears awaken from hibernation
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are advising the public that bears may be starting to awaken from winter hibernation, and are reminding people how they can do their part to avoid human-bear interactions.
“April is the beginning of bear season and with it comes an increase in bear sightings in urban areas. As bears wake up after a winter of hibernation, they are faced with a scarcity of natural food sources, leading black bears to forage for food in garbage cans and bird feeders,” a joint news release informs.
MNRF and the OPP are advising people to check around their homes this spring and remove the most popular bear attractants.
Top tips for preventing bears from visiting your neighbourhood include:
Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids
Putting out garbage only on the morning of pickup
Filling bird feeders, including seed, suet and nectar, only during the winter when bears are hibernating
Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use
Keeping pet food indoors.
“Bears that enter your community are not necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call during a bear encounter. 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 to provide useful information and best practices.
“If a bear is posing an immediate threat by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your local police,” both organizations jointly stated.
The Provincial Government’s Bear Wise website offered further clarification on who people should contact if they see bears in the community.
Call 911 or your local police, if you feel a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and:
enters a school yard when school is in session
enters or tries to enter a residence
wanders into a public gathering
kills livestock/pets and lingers at the site
stalks people and lingers at the site
Generally, bears want to avoid humans. Most encounters are not aggressive and attacks are rare.
Call the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (*between April 1-November 30) if a bear is:
roaming around, checking garbage cans
breaking into a shed where garbage or food is stored
in a tree
pulling down a bird feeder or knocking over a barbecue
moving through a backyard or field but is not lingering
From Dec 1-March 31, people are advised to contact their local MNRF District office.
People can find out more by visiting the Bear Wise website at https://www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise.