Bears are bad news but attacks are uncommon
Don’t worry about bears — but here are some tips just in case.
Thanks to a recent sighting and take down of a bear by police near Hamilton, too many people now have bears on their minds.
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) says we shouldn’t worry too much about bears because there are only 95,000 of them in Ontario. This seems like a lot but most of them live much farther north.
Still, farmers worry about bears because they can cause a lot of crop damage. For that reason the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has asked the province to reinstate the spring bear hunt that was cancelled more than 10 years ago, especially since the MNR has cancelled its bear trapping and relocating program.
The number of reported bear incidents depends on food availability. When food supplies are scarce, as they were in 2009, the reported incidents rise. There were 13,000 reported incidents in the province in 2009, up from 7,000 in 2006 when berries were plentiful.
When bears are hungry they can travel as far as 100 kilometres for their next meal.
Few people are killed by bears. In more than 100 years — between 1900 and 2009 — there have been only 63 people reported killed by a bear in all of North America. Only 10 deaths occurred in Ontario.
Here are some MNR tips if you think there’s a bear in your area bush:
• Make noise as you move: whistle, sing or talk. Bears will avoid you.
• Travel with others, if possible.
• Don’t wear music headphones.
• Watch for tracks, claw marks on trees, fresh bear droppings.
• Carry a whistle or air horn and have bear pepper spray. Practise by spraying an object to get a feel for how it sprays.
• Avoid strong fragrances and put food in sealed containers.