MNR Bear-Wise Program
Be Bear Wise this Season
Anyone living in Northern Ontario will tell you that living alongside wildlife is a great experience. Imagine sitting on your porch with your morning coffee and seeing a deer drinking from a stream or a bear and her cubs playing in a hayfield!! This is reality for us Northerners, especially when living in a rural area. As beautiful as this is there are also certain precautions we have to take to ensure that wildlife are just observed. An unsuspecting person could find themselves in a dangerous and potentially lethal situation if certain precautions are not taken to ensure that Bears and other wild animals are not purposefully or accidentally lured to your home. Below are tips to help you avoid a bad encounter and help you live in peace amongst all the beauty that is Northern Ontario.
Black Bear Facts
- Black bears actively feed from mid April to late fall
- In late summer and early fall some bears actively feed for 20 hours a day, ingesting as much as 20,000 calories.
- While preparing for the winter hibernation bears normally double their body weight
- Black bears will travel up to 100 km’s to find other food (garbage) if natural food is not available.
- Once they know where a non-natural food source is located, they will return again and again.
- Put out garbage on the day of pick-up, not the night before. Store in a sturdy building or place in a bear resistant trash receptacle.
- Do not leave pet food out. Hang bird feeders out of reach of bears.
- Keep BBQ’s clean and grease free. Store with livestock/pet feed inside a sturdy building.
- Pick all ripe fruit from trees and surrounding area as soon as possible.
- Vegetable gardens and compost piles may attract bears . DO NOT put meat, fish or other pungent scraps in compost pile. Add lime to reduce odors and accelerate decomposition.
Please Do Not Feed The Bears
Bears should never obtain human food, pet/livestock feed or garbage. Bears that receive these “food rewards” may become aggressive towards humans or cause property damage. To protect people and their property these bears may have to be destroyed. Wild bears have a natural fear of humans and will attempt to avoid people and developed area fed bears do not. They rely on natural foods such as berries and fish. Fed bears will abandon vital food sources for human foods and garbage and will quickly become conditioned to hand outs and will teach their cubs to do the same. There is also the increased chance of vehicle animal accidents as bears fed along the roads tend to stay near the road.
What to do if you See or Encounter a Bear on your Property
Every encounter with a black bear is unique. The following information is what experts recommend you do. There is no guarantee that what works in one instance will work in another.
Black Bear Safety Basics
- Never approach the bear to get a better look.
- DO NOT attempt to feed a bear.
- Anticipate and avoid encounters.
- Know what to do if you encounter a bear.
- Learn about bears and their behavior.
- When outdoors, supervise children and never leave pets unattended.
If You Spot a Black Bear
- Stay calm, often the bear is simply passing through.
- DO NOT run away, walk towards a building or vehicle and get inside.
- Once indoors, observe the bear. Did it move on or did it stay on your property? If the bear stayed, what was it doing or eating?
- Encourage the bear to leave. bang on pots and pans or blow an air horn or whistle. The more stressful a bears encounter with you the less likely it is to come back.
- If the bear got food (like garbage or bird food), or if the bear tried to get food you will need to remove or control the item that attracted the bear.
- Once the bear leaves, remove the attractant and assess your property for other possible attractants like garbage, dirty BBQ, bird or pet food or fruit or berries from your trees or bushes.
- It is possible for a bear to return even though you removed the attractant. Bears do return to places where they have found food. Once the bear does not get food, it will most likely move on.
- If you have done everything you can to remove attractants and the bear persists call 1-866-514-2327.
- If a bear is damaging your property, breaking into your home or threatening your personal safety or that of others call 9-1-1.
- Alert your neighbours about bear activity and work together to keep your neighbourhood free from items that attract bears.
- If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear will usually come down and leave when it feels safe.
NOTE: If you have shot a bear in defense on your property, you are required by law to immediately report it to your local Ministry of Natural Resources office either in person or by telephone. This requirement applies whether you intend to keep the bear or not. Failure to do so is a violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
The above information can be found on the MNR website at www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise