Ministry offers safety tips as area bear sightings higher than usual

By Manotick Messenger Staff

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has released a memo that residents in Eastern Ontario and rural Ottawa should avoid encounters with black bears.

Several people have reported bear sightings to the Manotick Messenger over the past month. Particular hot spots for bear sightings have been both north and south of Manotick near the Rideau River, along Brophy/Bankfield Road both close to Highway 416 and in particular between Twin Elms Road and Richmond, and the wooded area north of Perth Street west of the Village of Richmond.

The Ministry’s memo included tips to avoid encounters with black bears, which live in most parts of Ontario.

  • 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.

The Ministry also offered the following safety tips:

  • 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, the MNRF says you should:

  • 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.

If you live in a rural area, the MNRF also offers tips that can help keep your home or cottage safe from bears.

Most human-bear conflicts occur when bears are attracted by smells and rewarded with an easy meal. When bears pick up a scent with their keen noses, they will investigate it – even at your home or cottage.

Bears will return to an available food source, so keep your home or cottage clear of attractants like:

  • Open garbage bins
  • Grease and food residue from barbecue grills
  • Ripe fruit that has fallen
  • Meat scraps and food in the composter
  • Bird feeders
  • Pet food
  • Outdoor beverage fridges.

It takes all cottagers working together to be Bear Wise. Remove attractants or take precautions to avoid unwanted visitors.

For more information on staying safe from bears, visit www.ontario.ca/bearwise.

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