The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is providing some tips on what to do if you encounter a bear outdoors. Bears usually avoid humans but if you are in the wild you’re in their home. Make noise while walking through wooded areas especially if there’s lots of background noise. Singing, whistling or talking will help alert bears of your presence. The ministry is advising you to travel with others if possible and avoid wearing headphones while enjoying nature.

The MNRF is warning that bears are smart, curious, powerful and potentially dangerous. If you spend time in bear country you need to know how bears behave to avoid an encounter. The MNRF says to always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bear tracks, claw marks on trees and fresh bear droppings. Consider bringing a whistle, air horn, long handled axe or bear spray. Uncontrolled dogs in the woods may lead a bear right to you.

If the bear is not paying attention to you slowly and quietly back away while watching the bear to make sure it’s not following you. The ministry says to never approach a wild bear. If the bear obviously knows you are there raise your arms to let it know you’re a human and make yourself look as big as possible. Generally the nosier a bear is the less dangerous it will be. The MNRF says if a bear huffs, pops its jaw or stomps its paws on the ground it wants you to back away and give it space.

For more information on bears and what to do if you encounter one head to the Ontario bear smart website.