With a number of recent bear sightings in the District, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is reminding residents to be bear wise.

According to the MNRF, the number of bear-related reports in the Parry Sound-Muskoka area to date in 2020 is 26.

That’s actually one less sighting than the 27 that were seen by this time last year.

In an email to MyMuskokaNow, MNRF spokesperson Maimoona Dinani says there are a number of important factors to take into consideration when dealing with bear encounters.

“The most important step in minimizing human-bear encounters is to remove any items that could attract bears to a property or neighbourhood,” the email said. “Bears are attracted to garbage, bird food – including suet, seed and nectar, odours from barbecues and ripe fruit left on trees or on the ground.

Dinani notes that you can prevent bears from visiting your home or neighbourhood by storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids in a bear-proof location.

You’re also encouraged to put garbage out the morning of pickup, removing bird feeders in the spring, keeping pet foods indoors, keeping BBQ grills and drip pans clean.  

“When bears cannot gain access to non-natural foods, such as garbage, they will not stay in the area and will continue to move on in search of food sources,” Dinani added.

Not every bear sighting is an emergency, and the MNRF adds that if you see a bear and it is not a threat, you can report it to the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327.

This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from April to November.

If a bear poses an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, the public should call 911 or the local police.

For more information on being bear wise, head here.