Black Bear Safety Tips

BY SEAN GRAY

Now that the snow has finally melted, the lakes have opened up, and the black flies are out, we know that spring is here. Living in northern Ontario, the spring season also allows black bears to leave the den and begin their search for food. Because bears are hungry, many of us usually have the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures wandering around looking high and low for a tasty treat. As an outdoorsman and hunter, I have had many encounters with black bears and have learned to appreciate their beauty and strength, but more importantly respect them.

In most of my experiences, bears want nothing to do with humans and speed off at the smell or sight of us. Black bears have a sense of smell that is seven times better than a bloodhound and can reach speeds of 70 km an hour. Usually it is their keen sense of smell that brings them into our yards, camps, or tent sights, so I want to review a few behaviors and tips that may help you avoid this from happening.

Understand How Black Bears Communicate

Bears respond to people like they do with other bears. Understanding the way they communicate with each other can help you if you ever encounter one. Females often communicate with their cubs by moans to send the cubs in trees for safety, or to have them follow her. Most bears that sense danger do not roar, growl or moan like in the movies, they often slap the ground, “huff” and blow air forcefully through their nose or mouth or “snap” or “pop” their teeth.

If a bear is still feeling threatened after all of this, they will bluff charge, running toward the source of danger then veer away. A truly aggressive bear will stalk, and most likely not make any sounds. They will stare you down, protrude their lower lip and flatten their ears. They may also salivate more than usual.

Ways To Avoid Conflicts With Black Bears

In order to prevent conflicts with black bears, try and follow these tips:

  • Put garbage out the morning of garbage day and not the night before.
  • Take bird feeders down in early spring.
  • Keep all pet food indoors.
  • Clean up fallen fruit such as apples, cherries, plums, pears etc. from your yard.
  • Keep your BBQ in a garage or keep it clean and clear of grease or drippings.

These are only a few simple tips communities should be practicing. For more detailed information, visit Ontario.ca. In the meantime, be safe and continue to enjoy the outdoors and what nature has to offer!