The late arrival of warmer conditions has kept black bears in their winter dens for about two weeks longer than usual, and now that they have emerged from hibernation, they are weaker and hungrier.
“When bears first come out of hibernation, they are kind of dopey,” explained Joe Hamr, wildlife biologist and coordinator of Cambrian College’s Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessment program. Hamr says black bears that have emerged will be scavenging for any remaining natural sources of nutrition, including acorns or animal carcasses.
“They will be hungrier because of a longer hibernation period, but there isn’t much food out there for them because there are fewer buds and sprouts on the trees.” Hamr said that the animals will also find nutrition left out by humans in the form of bird feed, which is irresistible to a bear that’s hungry and weak after a long winter’s nap.
“It’s late April, and the bears have been out for only a couple of weeks, which is later than usual,” Hamr noted, adding that he checked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and it has received about a dozen calls regarding bear sightings. “Bears are naturally afraid of humans, but they will come closer, looking for food at this time of year,” Hamr said. “The best way to keep bears from becoming a problem on your property is to keep it free of bear attractants, so they aren’t keen on coming close. Cleaning up bird feeders and the seeds left on the ground will prevent bears from becoming a nuisance to people, or a danger to dogs.” He also advises that people avoid placing garbage outside overnight for the next day’s collection because it attracts hungry animals in competition for scarce resources.
Hamr recommends that those who encounter nuisance bears report them to the Bear Wise tip line at 1-866-514-2327, unless it’s an emergency, when it’s time to call 9-1-1.
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Joe Hamr, Ph.D.
Professor and Program Coordinator, Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessment
705-566-8101, ext. 7256 | email@example.com
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