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How to be Beary Safe in Bear Country

What do you call a bear without teeth?

A gummy bear!

The most common bear in Ontario is the black bear, they can be noisy when moseying through the woods and generally stay as far away from humans as they can. Bears are very curious creatures and do like to investigate weird noises and interesting smells. It is best to be very alert and well prepared when in bear country. 

All About Black Bears

Black bears can be found throughout Ontario. Their prefered habitat is forests with an abundance of food and shelter. Cubs are usually born inJanuary and will stay with their moms for about a year and a half. Did you know when black bear cubs are first born, they are about the size of a house cat!

Fully grown male black bears can weigh up to 500 pounds, but on average only weigh about 200-250 pounds.

Fully grown females can weigh up to 300 pounds, but on average only weigh about 140 pounds.

A black bear sow and her cub. Photo credits to Megan Lorenz

Bears hibernate in the winter months, which means they enter into a state similar to sleeping but their heart will slow down and they don’t move. They do this to conserve energy while staying warm and protected. When bears wake up from their hibernation, they have one thing on their mind… FOOD! They must eat to make  up for all the meals missed over the winter months. Bears are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. They’ll eat berries, nuts, to fish, insects, deer, and moose. They look for food that will quickly fatten them up and give them lots of energy, such as yummy  berry patches. 

Photo credits: Roger Hassell

When Outdoors

Bears are just as scared of us as we are of them. Encounters with bears are more common than they need to be, with simple strategies and awareness we can keep both bears and people safe!

Remember when you are out in bear habitat you are in their home. Make sure you travel in groups and be aware of your surroundings. Bears don’t like to be surprised, so make noise while walking through the woods such as talking, singing, or whistling. If you’re bringing a dog out on your outdoor travels, keep them leashed and controlled, try avoiding wearing perfumes or anything with a strong odour. Bears are attracted to smells and maybe curious as to what you have with or on you. 

If you’re camping, don’t keep food or snacks in your tent or car, and cook meals away from your sleeping area. Food should be kept in a bear locker, or hung in a tree away from your campground (hang food at least 4 meters above the ground and 3 meters from any tree limbs that could hold a bear). 

When at home or the cottage, manage your garbage and recycling to keep down smells that could attract bears. Store garbage in bear resistant containers, and try to burn or wash off food residue from barbecues and grills.

Check out this website for beary smart tips to help you be safe wherever you are!

If You See a Black Bear

If a bear feels threatened or scared it will give warning signs to let you know it’s there. They will hit the ground or trees, loudly exhale or huff, and/or let out moans or growls.


  • Do make noise
  • Yell “hey bear”
  • Clap your hands
  • Do make yourself bigger
  • Raise your arms
  • Look threatening
  • Do keep dogs on a leash
  • Do walk away slowly while still facing the bear
  • Do drop anything with food or smells that may be attracting the bear


  • Don’t approach the bear
  • Don’t make eye contact
  • Don’t turn away and run
  • Don’t climb a tree or jump in water
  • Don’t play dead

Activity Time!

Make some beary yummy cookies!

Follow this recipe to make some delicious summer treats that will make all the bears jealous.

Credit: Best with Chocolate

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