Bears growing concern in Central Ontario

CENTRAL ONTARIO Bear sightings are growing in Central Ontario.

Black bears have been spotted close to communities in Barrie, and in Kirkfield and Hickory Beach in Haliburton.

Police and conservation officers are getting more calls about nuisance bears.

On Saturday June 9, at 7:30 a.m. OPP in Barrie responded to reports of a bear digging around a dumpster near a business in the Craighurst area of Oro Medonte Township.

The bear departed prior to police arrival.

Police are requesting residents in the area ensure any potential food sources are removed from areas near their homes to reduce the likelihood of conflict with wildlife.

And recently officers from the City of Kawartha Lakes detachment of the OPP and a wildlife technician from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) responded to two concerns regarding black bears in residential areas. The first bear was in the Kirkfield area on May 25 and the second bear was in the Hickory Beach area on May 30.

In both instances the bears took refuge in trees and left the area when given the opportunity.

This time of year sees more bears coming into urban areas in search of food, but not every bear sighting is an emergency situation.

Call 911 or your local police force if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety.

The OPP and MNRF would like to remind residents that black bears live in most parts of Ontario. Most human-bear encounters occur when bears are attracted by smells, so removing potential attractants will help avoid unwarranted visitors. Knowing what to do if you come across a bear – and keeping your property free of bear attractants – is being Bear Wise.

Avoid encounters:

Make noise when you move through heavily wooded areas, especially if you are near a stream or waterfall, where bears may not hear you.

Singing, whistling or talking will alert bears to your presence, giving them a chance to avoid you.

Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of a bear like tracks, claw marks on trees or droppings.

DO NOT wear headphones.

Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are doing activities outside (i.e. hiking, jogging, cycling, gardening, berry picking or camping) where bears may not realize you are there.

If you are out with a dog, keep it on a leash. Uncontrolled, untrained dogs may actually lead a bear to you.

Think about safety:

Carry a whistle or air horn.

Carry and understand how to use bear spray.

If you are in “back country” consider carrying a long-handled axe.

If you do spot a bear:

Remain calm and do not run, climb a tree or swim.

Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight.

Watch the bear and wait for it to leave, if it does not leave wave your arms and make noise.

If you are near a building or vehicle, get inside as precaution.

What to do if an encounter results in an attack:

Use bear spray.

Fight back with everything you have.

Do not play dead unless you are sure a mother bear is attacking in defence of her cubs.

In non-emergency encounters, call the toll-free Bear Wise Reporting line at       1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641) for advice on dealing with bears in the community.

Visit for more information.

For non-emergencies – Call the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327.

And fmergencies – Call 911 or your local police.

For more information on Prevent prevention of bear encounters (Bear Wise) contact the Ministry Of Natural Resources.