Understanding Black Bear Behaviour

As far as the Ontario Government knows, there are no black bears in Southwestern Ontario, but the farther north you travel in Ontario, the more likely you are to see a black bear. If you are in central or northern Ontario, you are in black bear territory and you should know how to decrease your chances at having an unwelcome experience.

Adult black bears can weigh anywhere between 35 to 280 kilograms. They are very powerful and quite fast, considering how large they are. Rest assured, you cannot outrun a black bear. When a black bear is hibernating in the winter, they spend a large amount of their time, in the fall, foraging for food both during the day and at night. Bears are not picky eaters and that means they will take advantage of any food source they can find. This is why you will see bears at garbage dumps and why they will make their way into your campsite.

Bears have an amazing sense of smell and exceptional hearing. They will often smell or hear humans before they see them and will usually avoid them.

If you do catch a bear off-guard it is important to understand some of their basic behaviours.

bear-432925_1920-225x300 Understanding Black Bear BehaviourUnderstanding A Bear’s Behaviours

   It is checking you out

if a bear stands on its hind legs, waves its head side to side or makes a low-pitched grunting sound

   It is getting aggravated and upset…

if a bear clacks its teeth and makes an explosive blowing sound

   It is telling you to move away…

If a bear blows loudly, makes short lunges, slaps the ground (or an object) and/or is making “bluff” charges at you,

What To Do If you Meet A Bear

black-bear-1170229_19201-300x200 Understanding Black Bear Behaviour   If you are in the backcountry…

you should back away slowly (stay calm and DO NOT RUN) and leave the area.

   If you are in a group…

try to make yourselves look large by joining arms or waving your arms while yelling and making as much noise as possible.

   If you are at a campground or cottage…

you should take shelter in a building or vehicle (a tent or tent trailer is not a safe place). You can also try to scare the bear with loud noises, if you are in a safe place. This may include a vehicle horn, a blow horn or other loud noises. Keep in mind that bears that frequent campgrounds will be harder to get rid of since they have become habituated to humans.

What If The Bear Attacks?

   DO NOT play dead. This does not work with black bears like it sometimes does with grizzly bears.

   DO NOT climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers.

   DO fight back. Grab or use anything you can to fight back as hard and as long as you can.

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“Bear Behaviour – BearSmart.com.” BearSmartcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

“Bear Facts.” Science 317.5844 (2007): 1477. Ontario Nature. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

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