While most residents are in “hibernation” from the COVID-19 situation, the region’s local bear population is just coming out of their hibernation.

At this time of the year, the OPP and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are reminding the public to exercise extreme caution in the area.

Staff say that black bears waking up from hibernation are faced with a scarcity of natural food sources, leading them to look for food in garbage cans, bird feeders and more.

Tips to be Bear Wise and to help prevent bears in your neighbourhood include:

- Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids,
- Putting out garbage only on the morning of pickup,
- Putting away bird feeders for the spring,
- Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use,
- Keeping pet food indoors,

The MNRF adds that bears that enter your community are not necissarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call if you do encounter a bear.

For non-emergencies, the province operates a toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327. The line is open 24/7 between April 1 and November 30.

If a bear is posing an immediate threat by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, remain calm and call 911 or your local police department.