Alberta’s forests, mountains and foothills are home to the black bear and the grizzly bear. Human encounters with these animals are becoming more common as our activities take us further into bear territory.
If you’re living, working or visiting bear country you should be prepared for a bear encounter at any time. By becoming ‘BearSmart’ at home and outdoors, you can reduce the likelihood of an encounter, while also ensuring you know what actions to take if you happen to encounter a bear.
Bears are naturally curious and clever. They are also individuals, so every encounter will be unique. Serious attacks are rare but it’s important to always be cautious and alert when camping, biking, or hiking in bear country.
Follow these tips to be BearSmart outdoors:
- Make noise – the human voice is the best tool to deter bears. Talk loudly, sing or let out the occasional warning shout. Be extra noisy near flowing rivers and streams.
- Carry bear spray in a belt holster and know how to use it – watch the video for instructions.
- Travel in groups, keep young children close and keep dogs on a leash.
- Watch for signs of bear activity – if the signs look fresh, quickly and calmly leave the area.
- Avoid areas with typical sources of bear food – berry patches, grain fields, garbage pits or beehives.
- Avoid being out at dawn, dusk or night when bears are most active.
BearSmart at home
After a long winter, bears come out of hibernation with one thing on their minds: find food.
Bears live to eat. Their constant search to find new food sources and excellent sense of smell can lead hungry bears right to your doorstep if you live in bear country. They are easily lured by the smell of garbage, pet food or barbeque drippings.
Once bears have discovered a new food source it can be difficult to keep them from returning. The best thing you can do to prevent problems from starting is to control odours and food on your property.
Use these 6 steps to BearSmart your yard.
- Keep garbage and recyclables in bear-resistant, airtight containers or buildings.
- Use an indoor composter – outdoor compost attracts bears.
- Clean your barbecue after each use and store it in a bear-resistant building.
- Consider removing fruit trees and berry producing bushes from your property.
- Remove bird feeders between April and October.
- Never leave food, including pet food, outside.
If you see a bear in your backyard, do not panic or run. Calmly head indoors and call your local Fish and Wildlife office at 310-0000, or 1-800-642-3800 after business hours. Be sure to remove any bear attractants from your yard after the bear has left to avoid a return visit.
For more BearSmart tips visit www.bearsmart.alberta.ca.