Bear Encounters – Who Do I Call?


This time of year, we see more bears come into urban areas in search of food. Not every bear sighting is an emergency situation. Here is who to call if you encounter a bear.


Non-Emergency Encounters

Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641) if a black bear is:

Roaming around, checking garbage cans
Breaking into a shed where garbage or food is stored
In a tree
Pulling down a bird feeder or knocking over a barbecue
Moving through a backyard or field but is not lingering.

This line operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 to November 30. Staff can provide advice about bear behaviour, how to avoid human-bear interactions and how to remove attractants from your property.


Emergency Situations

Call 911 or your local police force if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as:

Entering a school yard when school is in session
Stalking people and lingering on-site
Entering or trying to enter a residence
Wandering into a public gathering
Killing livestock/pets and lingering on site.

Police are the first responder for any emergency situation. If requested by police, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will respond to emergency situations to assist during daylight hours.

Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding people to do their part to avoid human-bear interactions this spring, and encouraging them to check around their homes and remove the most popular bear attractants.

April is the beginning of bear season and with it comes an increase in bear sightings in urban areas. As bears wake up after a winter of hibernation, they are faced with a scarcity of natural food sources, leading black bears to forage for food in garbage cans and bird feeders.


Top tips for preventing bears from visiting your neighbourhood include:

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 grease from outdoor barbecue grills after each use
Keeping pet food indoors.

Bears that enter your community are not necessarily a threat, but it is important to know who to call during a bear encounter. For non-emergencies, the province operates a toll-free Bear Wise reporting line (1-866-514-2327). The line is open 24/7 from April 1 to November 30 to provide useful information and best practices.

If a bear is posing an immediate threat by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your local police.


Since 2004, Ontarioโ€™s 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.



Who to call during a bear encounter

What you can do to keep bears out of your neighbourhood

Source: OPP Media Release