The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is once again reminding cottage country of the importance of being bear wise.

Black bears live in many parts of Parry Sound-Muskoka, and the MNRF is providing tips and information to help you avoid encounters, think about safety, and know what to do if you do encounter a bear.

In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, Senior Media Relations Officer for the MNRF Jolanta Kowalski says if you are travelling through a heavily wooded area – it’s important to make lots of noise.

“Singing, whistling or talking helps alert the bears to your presence, so, it gives them a chance to avoid you. We also suggest keeping your eyes and ears open and look for signs of a bear, such as tracks or claw marks on trees.”

Kowalski notes if you are out with a dog, you should keep it on a leash, as uncontrolled or untrained dogs may actually lead a bear to you.

She adds it’s also extremely vital that you remain vigilant and not wear headphones while walking in wooded areas.

“Remain aware of your surroundings, especially you are out jogging, cycling, gardening, berry-picking, camping – it’s all about making sure if there’s a bear, that they are aware of you and they will likely head in the opposite direction.”

Kowalski also says when it comes to cottagers or campers – it’s important to ensure you keep your space clear of attractants and remove any open food sources.

She explains how, when natural food sources are scarce, bears will not hesitate to look elsewhere for food.

“If natural foods are good and bears are getting what they need in the forest, human-bear encounters tend to increase. If they are poor, that’s when they seek out the other easily available foods like garbage.”

For more on staying bear wise – head here.