Bears are waking up in the bush, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says don’t give them a buffet.

They are urging residents to take steps to prevent bears from visiting your home by making your trash harder to get at. While there is no risk to the public, the MNRF wants people to be aware that they will be coming out of hibernation. They will seek out your trash if there is a bad food year when they can’t find what they need in the bush. Jolanta Kowalski with the MNRF says bears will only stick around your property if they have an easy source of food. They have a good memory and will return to a place where they found food before.   She says if you’ve had bear issues in the past, stay on top of the garbage. It only takes one property’s garbage to draw in a bear, and the community must work together to keep their trash under lock and key. Above all, Kowalski stresses that if they have natural food sources, they will stay away from humans.

The ministry suggests keeping your trash indoors for as long as possible, putting away bird feeders for the spring, and keeping pet food indoors. They also suggest cleaning barbeques to get rid of residue that bears can smell. Garbage should be put out first thing in the morning, and in the meantime, keep it where the smell can’t be noticed. If a bear is hanging around your property, there are a few options you can try. The MNRF says to call OPP only if they are acting aggressively. If the bear is getting into anything, call Bear Wise Ontario at 1-866-514-2327. Bears are known to pass through property during this time of year, but if they don’t stick around, chances are you will not have a problem.