Did you know that bears will remember their last source of food and return there when hungry, sometimes travelling over 100 kilometres?

That’s reason enough to brush up on some Bear Wise tips.

Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police are reminding the public to do its part to avoid human-bear interactions this spring. It is important to check around homes and remove the most popular bear attractants.

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.

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.

The OPP advises that this time of year, more bears come into urban areas in search of food but not every bear sighting is an emergency situation.

Here is who to call if you encounter a bear.

Non-Emergency Encounters

Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641) if a black 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.

This line operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 to November 30. Staff can provide advice about bear behaviour, how to avoid human-bear interactions and how to remove attractants from your property.

Emergency Situations

Call 911 or your local police force if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as:

  • 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 the first responder for any emergency situation. If requested by police, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will respond to emergency situations to assist during daylight hours.