SCHRIEBER – Black bears have been an issue for many residents across communities in Northwestern Ontario this summer and into fall. Heading to fall, as bears prepare for winter hibernation, getting the needed supplies of food becomes increasingly important for the animals.
Over the last several months, Superior East Detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been responding to numerous bear complaints within their patrolled areas. The OPP advise that the mere sight of a bear does not necessarily constitute an immediate threat to public safety.
Human-bear activity is directly related to the availability of natural foods. Given the current food situation, Ontario is seeing an increase in reports of problem bears as bears search for alternate sources of food and will travel great distances to find alternate sources of food when natural foods are poor or unavailable.
The OPP are urging residents and cottagers to take extra care to not attract bears to their neighbourhood. Police remind the public that the majority of bear encounters can be prevented.
Removing easy access food sources is a good start. This includes bird feeders including hummingbird feeders. Keeping bears away means safely storing garbage until pickup day, cleaning barbecues, including the fat collector can which is a treat for bears will help.
Additionally, don’t leave coolers out, keep pet food indoors, and feed birds only in winter. Remove fruits and berries from trees as they ripen, and do not leave them on the ground and bushes to rot.
- The OPP will respond to emergency calls about wild animals if there is an immediate threat to the public.
- Police will generally utilize the siren equipped on the patrol vehicle to drive away a bear, but with their limited food sources will likely return if steps aren’t taken to remove the food source.
- Police will only destroy the bear as a last resort if the bear is posing an immediate threat to property or the public.
- The simple fact that bears are wandering around town is not a police matter and if left alone they will go about their business and leave.
- Only call 9-1-1, if a bear poses an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behavior.
- For advice on reducing bear attractants, call the ministry’s Bear Wise reporting line toll-free at 1-866-514-2327; Hearing Impaired (TTY) 1-705-945-7641. You will be connected directly with a live operator during bear season (April 1 – Nov 30).
- Find out more about what to do in emergency and non-emergency situations.
- Visit ontario.ca/bearwise for more information on bears.