In the last few weeks there has been a lot of talk in the media about bear sightings. Let’s face it, there are thousands of bears in Canada but since bears usually try to avoid human contact bear encounters are not an everyday occurrence. When out at the cottage or camping we all need to be bear aware. Here are a few things to keep in mind when enjoying the outdoors this summer.
Enjoying the outdoors
When exploring the outdoors keep in mind you are a visitor in a bear’s home. While walking through a heavily wooded area or areas with a greater amount of noise such as running water make noise by whistling, singing or talking to avoid startling a bear. Avoid anything that impairs your hearing such as wearing headphones. Be aware of your surroundings at all times paying special attention to areas with berries. Berry picking is an enjoyable family activity but it’s one that bears like doing with their family as well. Routinely scan your surroundings while berry picking, and when you rise, do so slowly as to not startle a bear if one if present.
Black bears will seek to avoid confrontation with humans but if you do happen to run into a bear stay calm and make yourself look big. Speak in a firm but not threatening voice while looking at the bear and back away. The more noise the bear is making, the less dangerous it is. Bears are very similar to farm animals; they will huff and pop their jaw or stomp its paws on the ground if they want you to back away and give the space. A bear that stands on its hind legs it is not being aggressive. It is trying to see, hear and smell you better to identify what you are. If a bear approaches you while you have food, drop the food and slowly back away. Do not run from a bear. If a bear keeps advancing and is getting close, be aggressive and stand your ground. Black bears can sprint up to 35 mph and are great tree climbers and swimmers.
Bear proof your property
Bears have an amazing sense of smell, the best sense of smell out of all terrestrial mammals to be exact. Black bears have been observed to travel 20 miles in a straight line to a food source. Take a walk around your property and look for accessible food sources. Bird and hummingbird feeders should be out of arms reach. If there are any fruit trees on the property, pick any ripe fruit and pick up any wind falls. Keep pet food and garbage inside, any food scraps that would attract bears and other animals can be put in the freezer until garbage day. Clean your barbecue after every use to avoid attracting bears. Never feed a bear, exposure to human’s can cause bears to lose their natural fear of humans. When this happens, they become a potential threat.