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Provincial officials say shortage in food bringing hungry bears to area

Shortages in natural food sources are leading to more human and bear encounters.

Officials with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) say there are shortages throughout Ontario. Specifically, the Parry Sound area is dealing with “sporadic berries and shortages in nut crops,” according to them.

The shortage is causing an increase in reports of bears searching for alternate food sources, according to the officials. They continue explaining that bears rely on berry and acorn crops to “fatten up” for hibernation and will travel great distances to find alternate food sources when natural foods are poor or unavailable.

With that in mind, officials say residents in the area surrounding Parry Sound should be extra careful to not attract bears to their homes and neighbourhood.

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Officials are urging everyone to take the following steps:

  • Storing garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids and keeping them indoors, if possible.
  • Waiting until garbage pickup day to put out the garbage.
  • Putting away bird feeders for the spring. Officials suggest offering birds natural alternatives, like flowers, nesting boxes, and fresh water.
  • Cleaning food residue and grease from outdoor barbecue grills, including grease traps, after each use.
  • Keeping pet food indoors.
  • Picking ripe fruit from trees and off of the ground.

Officials have a different set of reccomendations for food service operations:

  • Empty garbage and grease/fat containers frequently.
  • Use bear-resistant containers.
  • Lock the dumpster lids every night.
  • Avoid stockpiling garbage or grease/fat.
  • Clean garbage containers frequently and thoroughly by using a strong disinfectant to eliminate odours.

If a bear poses an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your area’s police.

With files from Mo Fahim

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