If you go into the woods today, don’t be in for a big surprise – the bears are on their way back. But with a little forethought, living near bears can be a picnic.
Fort Frances is no stranger to urban bears, but the key to living in bear habitat is thinking ahead and preventing encounters in the first place, according to the Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). They remind the public to exercise caution as black bears begin to come out of hibernation this spring.
Bears waking from hibernation face a lack of natural food sources, leading them to look for food in garbage cans and bird feeders.
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 pickup day to put out garbage
- Taking away bird feeders for the spring and summer (you can offer birds natural alternatives, such as flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water)
- Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills – including grease traps – after each use
- Keeping pet food indoors
Bears entering your community are not necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call if you encounter one. The province operates a non-emergency, 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 showing threatening or aggressive behaviour, remain calm and call 911 or your local police department.