Be Bear Wise

Brown Bear. The North Bay Police Service Police and Ontario Provincial Police are asking the public to be aware that bears are preparing for hibernation and are looking for food sources. Their entire life revolves around food. When they are not hibernating, bears spend most of their time eating or looking for food.

Learn about bears

Black bears are nothing like the friendly cartoon bears. They are large, smart, curious, powerful and potentially dangerous animals that live throughout Ontario from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay coast and they don’t like surprises. They live primarily in forested areas where they are best able to find food, refuge and den sites.

Adult bears can weigh anywhere from 100 to 600 pounds. They are omnivores (they eat both plants and animals). Though they prefer plant food, they will eat anything easy to get. In Ontario they feed from mid April until late fall. By early November they usually enter their dens. They like berries and nuts but if they can’t find natural foods they have been known to travel up to 100 km to find food (including bird feeders and/or our garbage).

Black bears are common and this invariably leads to interaction with humans, particularly if they get used to finding food near populated areas.

Black bears are not normally dangerous animals and usually avoid humans. They do not become a problem on their own. They learn bad habits because of the actions of humans. Take steps to keep bears out of your community.

The potential for nuisance bear activity increases in years when berry crops fail and the bears search for alternate food sources. This behavior will carry over to the following spring as well when the bears come out of their dens in poor condition.

Interaction between humans and bears will likely occur near what the bear identifies as food sources. Frequency depends on a number of factors:

  • how much natural food is available to the bears
  • how much natural food was available the previous fall
  • size of the bear population
  • the age of the bears (young bears are often unwary and are more likely to come in contact with humans)
  • whether bears have ready access to garbage
  • location (at dumps bears congregate around a bountiful food source, along roadsides bears feed on grass and leaves but may quickly become “pan handlers” if they are fed by motorists. In the wilderness people will encounter bears)

If bears are allowed to get at bird feeders, human food or garbage, they quickly learn to connect it with people. They become “food conditioned” and a food conditioned bear is more likely to approach people than bears that are not conditioned.

Don’t feed bears and don’t leave food out where they can get at it. You can discourage black bears from coming on your property or into your community. Know what attracts them and take steps to eliminate or control them.

Report bear problems at 1-866-514-BEAR (2327)

For more information about being Bear Wise visit the MNR website.