As the temperatures warm up and it begins to feel a lot more like some summer in northwestern Ontario, our seasonal guests…. No not tourists…. but bears will begin to make more of an appearance.

To prepare residents and tourists this summer, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry has shared some important tips to protect yourself from bears.

The MNRF says to make noise such as singing whistling, and talking when you move through heavily wooded areas to alert bears of your presence, which allows them to avoid you.

Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open and watch for signs of bears, such as tracks, claw marks on trees, or droppings, and they suggest not wearing headphones. Also, be aware of your surroundings, and keep your dog on a leash to avoid bear encounters.

To protect yourself from a bear make sure to carry a whistle or air horn, bear spray, and if in the backcountry carry a long-handled axe.

If you do come in contact with a bear the MNRF says to remain calm, and don’t run, climb a tree, or swim, slowly back away while keeping the bear insight, but don’t make direct eye contact with the bear.

As well, wait for it to leave, and if it doesn’t leave wave your arms and make noise, and if near a vehicle, get inside as a precaution.

Cottage Owner Bear Safety

Those heading out to the cabin, camp, or cottage this summer, make sure all attractants are clear of your property as that will attract bears:

  • Open garbage bins
  • Grease and food residue from barbecue grills

  • Ripe fruit that has fallen  Meat scraps and food in the composter

  • Bird feeders

  • Pet food

  • Outdoor beverage fridges.

It takes all cottagers working together to be Bear Wise. Remove attractants or take precautions to avoid unwanted visitors.

Camping Bear Safety

The MNRF has some bear-wise tips to keep in mind even before heading out camping this summer.

First off, plan your trip with bear safety in mind by learning to avoid or attract the furry creatures, and share bear wise tips with children. Think about how to safely store your food and garbage while on the campsite, and pack food with special care.

When you arrive at your campsite look for signs of bear activity. Keep food in bear-resistant containers or sealed plastic bags to store food when camping. Hang food at least 13 feet above the ground and 10 feet from tree limbs. They also suggest, to never eat, cook or store food, cooking equipment, or toiletries in your tent. And always remember to clean up your campsite before vacating.

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.