As there occasionally reports of bears in the general Otter Lake area, I though I would share a couple of key items related to black bears and what to do if you see or encounter black bears.
1. Avoid Bear encounters by:
a. Make noise! Let bears know you're there. Call out, clap, sing or talk loudly especially near streams, dense vegetation and berry patches, on windy days, and in areas of low visibility. Bear bells are not enough.
b. Watch for fresh bear sign. Tracks, droppings, diggings, torn-up logs and turned-over rocks are all signs that a bear has been in the area. Leave the area if the signs are fresh.
2. If you see/encounter a Bear:
a. If you SEE a bear
Stop and remain calm. Get ready to use your bear spray (if you have some). Do not run away.
b. Is the bear UNAWARE of your presence?
Move away quietly without getting its attention.
c. Is the bear AWARE of your presence?
Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, growling, snapping their jaws and laying their ears back.
1. Stay calm. Your calm behaviour can reassure the bear. Screams or sudden movements may trigger an attack.
2. Speak to the bear. Talk calmly and firmly. This lets the bear know you are human and not a prey animal. If a bear rears on its hind legs and waves its nose about, it is trying to identify you.
3. Back away slowly. Never run! Running may trigger a pursuit.
4. Make yourself appear BIG. Pick up small children and stay in a group.
5. Do not drop your pack. It can provide protection.
d. If you must proceed, make a wide detour around a bear or wait at a safe distance for it to move on.
Here are a few references:
1. Staying safe around Black Bears (QC):
2. Black Bear Safety, from Algonquin Park (ON): http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/black-bear-safety-rules.php
3. Bear Safety, general listing (ON):
4. Safe Travel in Bear Country, Parks Canada: