Tips to stay Bear Wise this spring
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
Are you Bear Wise? The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are offering some simple tips to keep human-bear interactions at a minimum as black bears begin to emerge from their winter hibernation.
An April 8 Government of Ontario news release notes, “Bears waking from hibernation face a scarcity of natural food sources, leading them to look for food in garbage cans and bird feeders.”
With a few simple steps bears can be discouraged from visiting your home and neighbourhood.
- Store garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids (indoors if possible)
- Wait until pickup day to put out your garbage
- take down bird feeders for the spring
- Clean food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills, including grease traps, after each use
- Keep pet food indoors
The release notes, “Bears entering your community are not necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call if you encounter one. The province operates a non-emergency, 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.”
Some examples of non-emergency encounters include a bear that 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
So, what constitutes an emergency encounter?
NDMNRF suggests that individuals call 911 or your local police force if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety.
Some threatening or aggressive behaviours can include:
- Entering a schoolyard 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. If requested by police, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry may respond to emergencies to assist during daylight hours.
More information on living in bear country can be found by visiting the Government of Ontario Bear Wise website at https://bit.ly/37BIlLG.