Pick your ripe berries promptly and keep you garbage in bear-proof containers if you don’t want hungry bruins scouring your yard for a pre-winter snack.
After a long winter and a damp summer, bears are beginning their pre-winter bulk-up earlier and more aggressively this year, particularly in the Parry Sound and Muskoka region, wreaking havoc for both cottagers and full-time residents.
This summer, there have been 354 complaints regarding nuisance bears, which is triple the amount from last year at this time. Two bears have also been shot this season—one near Bracebridge and the other near Orillia—after repeatedly entering populated regions.
The bears have been leaving a mess in their wake: ravaged bird feeders, flattened barbeques, and crushed garbage bins and composts. Mike Hall, co-coordinator for the Ministry of Natural Resources Bear Wise program, told the Toronto Star, “They are foraging constantly and trying to double their weight for hibernation. It’s a cycle of feast and famine. That’s what causes us problems.”
He also adds that there are more complaints than usual because the bears had plenty of food last season. This season, the berry crops have been less plentiful, which means even a faint smell of a fruit peel decomposing can cause a frenzy for a hungry bear.
To keep your property bear-free, block off any access to food, including compost, garbage, pet food containers, and bird feeders. After cooking food on the barbeque, leave it on to burn away any leftover grease. While camping, never store any food in a tent (even a tube of toothpaste can smell like snack to a bear), and hang it from a nearby tree in a bear-proof container. If a bear tries to break into your home, enters a public gathering, or has killed livestock, call 911.