Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Province, OPP alert residents of possible shortened bear hibernation in 2024

Bears may be awakening from hibernation early this year. Photo by Pete Nuij.

The Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have issued a release, 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, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry reported.

“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,” the Ministry explained.

According to the release, 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

The Ministry stated that it is important to always leash dogs because unleashed dogs can lead bears back to owners and cause defensive bear attacks on people.

Bears entering the community are not necessarily a threat, according to the release, but the Ministry noted that 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, 2024, and is available 24/7. Visit Bear Wise to learn more about how to avoid attracting bears and what to do if you encounter one.

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