Public Should Exercise Caution As Black Bears Come Out Of Their Winter Hibernation
TORONTO: The Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminidng everyone to exercise caution as black bears begin to come out of hibernation this spring.
Bears waking from hibernation face 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 pickup day to put out garbage
• Storing 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, including grease traps, after each use
• Keeping pet food indoors
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.
• Visit Bear Wise to learn more about how to avoid attracting bears and what to do if you encounter one
• Bears will remember their last source of food and return there when hungry, sometimes travelling over 100 kilometres
• If you encounter a black bear
• Stop. Do not panic. Remain calm.
• Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, provided you do not approach. The noise is meant to “scare” you off and acts as a warning signal.
What you Must do
• Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave.
• Throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle, air horn or yelling if the bear does not leave.
• Prepare to use bear spray.
• Get inside a building or vehicle,.
• Drop any food you may be carrying and slowly move away.
• Leave a bear alone if it is in a tree. Leave the area. The bear will come down when it feels safe.
• Play dead only if you encounter a mother bear with cubs.
You must not
• Run, climb a tree or swim.
• Kneel down.
• Make direct eye contact.
• Approach the bear to get a better look.
• Attempt to feed a bear.
• Let your dog off its leash.
• Play dead unless you are attacked by a mother bear defending her cubs.
If a bear attacks
• Use bear spray and immediately leave the area.
• Fight back with everything you have.
• Do not play dead unless you are sure you are being attacked by a mother bear defending her cubs.