Media Release – Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Black bears live in most parts of Ontario. Knowing what to do if you encounter a bear is being Bear Wise.
• 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 and watch for signs of a bear, such as tracks, claw marks on trees or droppings.
• DO NOT wear headphones.
• Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are doing activities outside (e.g. 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 and/or 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 a 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.
A bear may:
-Stand on its hind legs to get a better look at you.
-Salivate, exhale loudly, make huffing, moaning, clacking and popping sounds with its mouth, teeth and jaws.
-Lower its head with its ears drawn back while facing you.
-Charge forward, and/or swat the ground with its paws. This is also known as a bluff charge.
The noisier a bear is, the less dangerous it is provided you don’t approach it. These are all warning signals a bear gives to let you know you are too close.
Bear attacks are rare. However, a bear may attack if:
-The bear wants more space.
-It perceives you to be a threat, especially to its cubs or food.
-It is a predatory bear. A predatory bear approaches silently and may continue to approach regardless of your attempts to deter it by yelling, use of bear spray or throwing objects.
Visit Ontario.ca/bearwise for more information.