top of page

Black bears live throughout most of Ontario and prefer forested areas where they are best able to find food, refuge and den sites.

When they are not hibernating, bears spend most of their time looking for food. In the summer, they eat berries such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. In the fall, they turn their attention to hazel nuts, mountain ash, acorns and beech nuts.
While black bears will eat carrion, insects, fish, deer and moose calves, the bulk of their diet is made up of plants. They like to find lots of high energy food – like huge berry patches – that will help them fatten up fast. Their survival and ability to have young depends on them doubling their weight before winter hibernation.
Bears usually avoid humans, but they are attracted to urban and semi-urban areas to get food. They will topple bird feeders, ransack barbecues, raid garbage cans and even try to enter buildings. When they learn that they can find food where people live, bears will return again and again.
Garbage, bird and pet food, and smells like grease and food residue on barbecues attract bears to our communities.
While bear attacks and human injuries are rare, we need to be aware and prevent attracting animals.

Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans — food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we are willing to make small changes to how we think and act.
People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all need to be responsible for preventing and handling human wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please make sure you consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.

Limit food sources

  • Put garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids (bear resistant), and only put them out on the morning of garbage day, not the night before.

  • If you do not have curbside pick-up, take your garbage to the dump often.

  • Frequently wash garbage cans and recycle containers and lids with a strong smelling disinfectant.

  • Fill bird feeders only through the winter months.

  • Do not leave pet food outdoors.

  • Avoid landscaping with trees, shrubs or plants that produce food known to attract bears (such as crab apple trees, mountain ash, beech and oak).

  • Do not put meat, fish or sweet food (including fruit) in your composter.

  • Pick all ripe fruit from trees and bushes.

  • Remove grease and food residue from barbecue grills, including the grease cup underneath, after each use.



  • If a bear is damaging your property, breaking into your home or threatening human safety, call 911 or your local police.

  • If a bear is in a tree near you, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear will leave when it feels safe.



If you encounter a bear:

  • If the bear is not paying any attention to you, slowly and quietly back away while watching the bear.

  • If the bear knows you are there, raise your arms to let the bear know you are a human. Speak in a firm but non-threatening voice while looking at the bear and backing away.

  • If a bear huffs, pops its jaw or stomps its paws on the ground, it wants you to back away and give it space.

  • If a bear closely approaches you, drop any food you are carrying and continue backing up.

  • If the bear continues to try to approach, stand your ground and be aggressive — yell, stand tall, wave your arms and throw objects, use a whistle or air horn, pepper spray or anything else to threaten or distract the bear.

  • Do not run or climb a tree.

  • If the bear makes contact, fight back with everything you have.



  • A landowner may humanely kill bears that are damaging or about to damage their property. Firearm regulations and bylaws must be followed.

  • Landowners must report bears killed in protection of property to their local Ministry of Natural Resources office.


For more information and assistance…

For information on bears…

  • Call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940.

  • Check out Hinterland Who’s Who -

For information on preventing conflicts with bears…

  • Check out BearWise –

To report a bear problem….

  • Call the bear reporting line at 1-866-514-BEAR (2327)

bottom of page