The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is urging 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 feeders," says a release.
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 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 neighbourhood 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.
Visit Bear Wise at Ontario.ca 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.