Public urged to be cautious as bears come out of hibernation
Tim Brody - Editor
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding the public 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 feeder,” an MNRF April 7 bulletin informed, adding, “Bears will remember their last source of food and return there when hungry, sometimes travelling over 100 kilometres.”
People can prevent bears from visiting their 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
“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,” the MNRF bulletin shared.
The MNRF informed that people should call the Bear Wise reporting line for non-emergency bear encounters such as a bear:
- 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
People are asking to call 911 or their local police force in an emergency situation if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety in situations such as a bear:
- 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,” the MNRF shared.
People can visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise for tips on how to prevent human-bear encounters and avoid attracting bears.