With the summer season winding down, it might seem as though bear activity is decreasing.
But Alyson Bisson, a bear technician with the local Ministry of Natural Resources office, warned this may not be the case.
“The number of bear occurrences within the Town of Fort Frances has been about average this season so far,” she noted.
“Over the next month, we expect that activity may likely increase as the bears search for food before hibernation.”
Bisson said the lives of black bears revolve around food. When they’re not hibernating, they spend most of their time looking for food.
But she noted the availability of their natural food varies from year to year. When natural food sources are not abundant, black bears will travel long distances to seek out alternative sources.
“With the late start to the season, above normal precipitation, and cooler temperatures, it seems that the natural food sources are not overly abundant in some parts of the district this year,” Bisson said.
But while a poor berry crop may be what causes bears to look for other food sources, she added enticing them with garbage and other attractants only will support this behaviour.
She said improperly-stored household garbage is the biggest culprit in attracting bears to human habitation, as well as other thing such as compost piles, pet food, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and birdfeeders.
She stressed public awareness is key to reducing bear occurrences, noting the province’s “BearWise” program is intended to work with communities to reduce human-bear conflicts through education and prevention.
Bisson also said while bears often are perceived as threatening, they usually avoid humans.
She said bears are attracted into urban areas to get food. When they learn they can find food where people live, bears will return again and again.
Black bears are smart and always are looking for an easy meal.
She indicated the most important thing the public can to do reduce human-bear conflicts is to be aware of bear attractants and how to control them.
Some things you can do to bear-proof your property include:
Eliminate odours. Put garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids, and only put it out on the morning of garbage day, not the night before.
Whenever possible, store garbage in bear-resistant containers or indoors (i.e., house, shed, garage).
If you do not have curbside pick-up, take your garbage to the dump often.
Frequently wash garbage cans and recycle containers and lids with a strong smelling disinfectant.
Fill bird feeders only through the winter months. Do not leave pet food outdoors.
Feed pets indoors, not outside or in screened-in areas or porches.
Avoid landscaping with trees, shrubs, or plants that produce food known to attract bears (some examples include crab apple trees, mountain ash, beech, and oak).
Do not put meat, fish, or sweet food (including fruit) in your composter.
Remove vegetables and fallen fruit from the ground. Pick all ripe fruit from trees and bushes.
Be aware that cooking odours can attract bears. Remove grease and food residue from barbecue grills, including the grease cup underneath, after each use.
Learn about bears, their needs, and behaviour. Encourage your neighbours and your community to practice “BearWise” habits.
For an immediate emergency involving a bear, call your local police detachment or 9-1-1.
To report other bear problems, call the “BearWise” hotline at 1-866-514-2327.
For more information, visit the “BearWise” website at ontario.ca/bearwise