The dos and don’ts of bear encounters: how to stay safe around bears

by The Standard | Podcast June 23rd, 3022

COURTNEY McCLURE, The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: Did you know a black bear was spotted around Allbright Road and Concession 6, near the Walker Woods hiking trail near Uxbridge?

Here are the dos and don’ts of black bear safety.

If you notice a black bear around your area, call Bear Wise, at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY).

If a bear is roaming your neighbourhood streets, checking garbage cans, in a tree, or pulling down a bird feeder, you can call 705-945-7641. This line is available 24/7 starting from April 1st to November 30th. If the bear poses an immediate threat to you or anyone else, you can call 9-1-1 or your local police department.

Signs that a bear might be a potential threat include seeing one enter a schoolyard, noticing a bear stalking people or entering a residential area.

If you encounter a bear yourself, there are a few things you can do. Slowly back away while waving your arms and making noise, and wait for the bear to leave. If you’re in a residential area, try getting inside a building or a vehicle. Only play dead if you’re near a mother bear with cubs.

Likewise, there are a few things you should not do if you encounter a bear. Do not run, swim or climb a tree. Do not kneel anywhere near the bear. If you encounter a bear while walking your pet, do not let your pet off its leash.

If a bear attacks you, use bear spray if you have some on hand. According to ontario.ca, you should fight back “with everything you have.”

Again, it’s important not to play dead unless you encounter a mother bear with her cubs. In this case she is more preoccupied with ensuring her young will not be harmed, so playing dead can satisfy the sense of immediate threat she feels and she will remove her cubs safely from the area.

If you have a dog and take frequent walks in woodsy areas, it’s a good idea to become familiar with tips and tricks on staying bear-wise. If you’re used to walking your dog unleashed, you may want to think twice. If a bear notices an unleashed dog, it may become aggressive and attack. When a bear sees an unleashed dog returning to its owner, it may think it’s in danger and chase the dog. So your dog could potentially lead the bear right to you.

For more information about bears and how to stay safe, please visit ontario.ca and look for the page “Be Bear Wise and prevent bear encounters.”