NEWS RELEASE

Be Bear Wise to Prevent Bear Encounters

Public should exercise caution as bears come out of hibernation early

March 01, 2024

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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. With this winter’s mild weather and lack of snow, there have been reports of black bears coming out of hibernation early in some parts of the province.

At this time of year, there is little natural food for bears, causing them to search for other food sources, including garbage and bird feed.

Taking these simple precautions can help prevent attracting bears to your home and neighbourhood, keeping bears in the wild where they belong:

  • 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

Additionally, it is important to always leash your dog because unleashed dogs can lead bears back to owners and cause defensive bear attacks on people.

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). Because of the unseasonably warm weather this year, the line is open early, from March 1 to November 30 and is available 24/7.

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

Quick Facts

Visit Bear Wise to learn more about how to avoid attracting bears and what to do if you encounter one.

Bears will remember their last source of food and return there when hungry, sometimes travelling over 100 kilometres.

Additional Resources

Bear Encounters — Who Do I Call?