The Halton Regional Police Service has received reports of several bear sighting reports over the past two days in Milton.
On May 12, a citizen reported a bear in the area of Guelph Line and Highway 401 in the Town of Milton. The animal was not seen any more that day.
The next day, a farmer reported a bear on his property in the area of 6th Line and Lower Base Road in the town.
The police service attended and saw a bear in the distance. It subsequently came towards the officers and stood up on its back legs about 50 meters away from them. The bear then ran off into the bush.
The bear is described as a large black male, approximately 400 pounds. There is no indication it has caused any harm to any humans or cattle. Bears travel great distances so its exact location cannot be determined.
The Ministry of Natural Resources was contacted and is working in partnership with police. The province is reminding families to take simple precautions this spring to prevent attracting black bears as they come out of hibernation.
The potential for human and bear conflicts increases when there is little natural food for bears. If that happens, black bears will search for other food sources, such as garbage and bird feed, which can draw bears to populated areas.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture last week joined with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters in calling for the reinstatement of the spring bear hunt in Ontario.
Experts suggest some simple instructions to minimize the chances of attracting black bears:
– store garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids;
– put garbage out only on the morning of pick-up;
– put away bird feeders because seed, suet and nectar attract bears;
– clean outdoor grills after each use, including the grease trap underneath since bears are drawn by smells from great distances, including grease and food residue on grills.
If a person does encounter a bear, the MNR website offers these tips:
– if the bear hasn’t noticed a person, he should back away slowly and quietly while still keeping eyes on the bear to ensure it doesn’t follow;
– do not approach the bear;
– if the bear sees a person, he should raise the arms and let it know it is dealing with a human and then try to appear to look as large as possible while speaking in a firm, non-threatening tone while looking at it;
– the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, providing people do not approach. If it huffs, pops its jaw or stomps its paws on the ground, it wants people to back away and give it space;
– if a bear closely approaches, drop any food being carried and back away;
– if the bear continues to approach, stand and act aggressive. Use a whistle or air horn, yell, stand tall, wave the arms and throw objects;
– if it keeps advancing, continue to stand there. Use bear pepper spray and anything else to threaten or distract the bear since bears will often first test to see if it is safe to approach;
– do not run or climb a tree. Bears can run faster and climb better than people; and
– if the bear makes contact, fight back as hard as possible.
The MNR has a telephone inquiry line to report bear problems namely the Bear Information and Reporting Line, at 1-866-514-2327 and further safety tips can be located on the website at www.mnr.gov.on.ca.
In a life threatening emergency, call your local police via the 911 emergency communication system.
In a non-emergency, the police can be contacted at 519-843-4240 in Fergus, 519-856-2372 in Rockwood, 519-323-1535 in Palmerston, and 519-343-5770 in Mount Forest to provide any information on bear sightings.