It might not look like spring quite yet thanks to the most recent snowstorm, but it is in fact the time of the year when bears will begin to come out of hibernation.  

The Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding the public to exercise caution as black bears begin to come out of hibernation.  

When bears emerge from hibernation, they face hunger and scarcity of natural food options so they will resort to looking for food in garbage cans or 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 

  • Storing bird feeders for the spring (you can offer birds natural alternatives, such as flowers, nesting boxes and freshwater) 

  • Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills, including grease traps, after each use 

  • Keeping pet food indoors 

Black bears that enter your community do not always pose 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. 

Call 911 or your local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as: 

  • enters a schoolyard when school is in session 

  • stalks people and lingers at the site 

  • enters or tries to enter a residence 

  • wanders into a public gathering 

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