_ (Via OPP) _
The Ontario government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding people to take extra care not to attract bears to their neighborhood.
In some parts of the province, this year’s mild winter means black bears are coming out of hibernation early. Taking simple precautions can help prevent black bears from visiting your community.
Human-bear interactions are related to the availability of bears’ natural food sources. When natural food sources are unavailable, black bears will search for other food. Items such as garbage and bird feed can draw bears to populated areas. Take care by:
* Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids * Putting out garbage only on the morning of pickup * Filling bird feeders, including seed, suet and nectar only during the winter when bears are hibernating * Cleaning food residue and removing grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use * Keeping pet food indoors.
[caption id=“attachment_64764” align=“aligncenter” width=“720”]
OPP say the mild weather means bears, such as this Black Bear, may come out of hibernation early. (U.S. National Park Service)[/caption]
A bear that enters a populated area isn’t necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call during a bear encounter. If a bear is posing an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your local police.
For non-emergencies, the province operates a toll-free Bear Wise reporting line (1-866-514-2327) 24⁄7 from April 1 to November 30 to provide the public with information and best practices.
* Since 2004, Ontario's [ Bear Wise ](https://www.ontario.ca/page/report-bear-problem-bear-wise) program has been educating people on how to avoid attracting bears and how to prevent human-bear interactions. * Bears will remember their last source of food and return there when hungry, sometimes travelling over 100 kilometres.
* [ Bear Encounters - Who Do I Call? ](https://news.ontario.ca/mnr/en/2017/04/bear-encounters----who-do-i-call-4.html)
* The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ontario Provincial Police have [ distinct roles and responsibilities ](http://news.ontario.ca/m/44210) to maintain public safety when they encounter a bear. * What you can do to [ keep bears out of your neighbourhood ](https://www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise) .