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Bears may look cuddly, but make sure to keep your distance

'Removing potential attractants will help avoid unwarranted visitors,' police say
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TINY TOWNSHIP – Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) would like to remind residents that black bears live in most parts of Ontario. Most human-bear encounters occur when bears are attracted by smells, so removing potential attractants will help avoid unwarranted visitors. Knowing what to do if you come across a bear, as not every bear sighting is an emergency situation - and keeping your property free of bear attractants - is being Bear Wise.

Reduce the Chances of Attracting Bears by: 

  • Storing garbage in bear-resistant, airtight containers inside a storage area that is not accessible to bears  
  • Washing garbage containers and dumpsters frequently using a strong disinfectant to reduce odours  
  • Putting out garbage on the morning of garbage collection - not the night before 
  • Keeping pet food indoors  
  • Removing grease and food residue from barbecue grills, including the grease trap, after each use  
  • Putting away bird feeders until the winter months  
  • Turning compost regularly and keeping meat, fish or sweet foods like fruit out of your composter  
  • Keeping meat and fish scraps in the freezer until garbage collection day  
  • Picking fruits and berries from trees as they ripen and from the ground.

If You Encounter a Bear:  

  • If your personal safety is at risk, call 911 or your local police  
  • Remain calm - often the bear is just passing through, and will move on if no food source is found  
  • If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone and remove other people and dogs from the area  
  • Keep away from the bear, and do not block its exit  
  • Tell others of its location and warn them to keep away, and bring children and pets indoors  
  • If near a building or car, get inside as a precaution  
  • Keep dogs on leash and away from bears  
  • If you have a problem with a bear, call the Bear Wise line toll-free at 1-866-514-2327 for advice on how to avoid human-bear encounters during bear season (April 1 to Nov. 30).

Tips to Avoid Encounters with Bears:  

  • Bears have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing however their eyesight is limited so it is important to make noise when you move through heavily wooded areas which will alert the bear to your presence.  
  • Singing, whistling or talking will alert bears to your presence, giving them a chance to avoid you.  
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of a bear like tracks, claw marks on trees or droppings.  
  • DO NOT wear headphones.  
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are doing activities outside (i.e. hiking, jogging, cycling, gardening, berry picking or camping) where bears may not realize you are there.  
  • If you are out with a dog, keep it on a leash. Uncontrolled, untrained dogs may actually lead a bear to you.

What to Do If you Spot a Bear:

  • Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight.  
  • If you are near a building or vehicle, get inside as precaution.  
  • Notify the police by calling 911 if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety

MNRF staff work closely with OPP officers by supporting them with training on problem wildlife situations.

Persons spotting bears in the community and wanting to make a report and get advice on dealing with bears in the community are asked to call the toll-free Bear Wise Reporting line at  1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641)

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