Kenora and the surrounding area has seen an increase in bear activity within the city limits.

An update from the MNRF showed that since August 5, 2021, there have been 313 calls to the MNRF Bearwise Reporting Line compared to 82 calls from the same period last year.

The burning question is why has there been an increase this year, more so than last year? Michelle Nowak Regional Outreach Specialist for the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry was able to answer that question.

“Kenora received significant frost early this spring followed by hot and dry weather. Natural food sources are very scarce as a result. Attractions such as commercial food waste has drawn the bears into town and continue to attract wildlife,” said Nowak

“Bears are attracted to urban areas in the search for food, either aroma, fruit trees, garbage and pet food left outside. 2021 has seen an early spring followed by a late frost and now drought conditions. These factors have had a negative impact on summer berry crops, which are a primary summer food for black bears,” added Nowak

In addition, the Ministry has provided alternative responses depending on the situation. Nowak noted that traps have been set and bears have been removed for public safety and to alleviate pressure on the public and police agencies. However, this action is usually a temporary measure and bears will continue to return if attractions are present.

For emergency, bear encounters residents can call 9-1-1 or your local police. Non-emergency bear encounters can be reported on the toll-free Bearwise Reporting Line at 1-866-514-2327 or TTY-705-945-7641.

To avoid bear encounters, follow these Bear Wise tips.

GARBAGE:

  • put garbage out only on the morning of garbage day, not the night before

  • put meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day

  • put garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids and store it in a bear-proof location such as your basement or a sturdy garage

  • frequently wash garbage cans and recycle containers and lids with a strong-smelling disinfectant, such as bleach

  • take garbage to the dump often, if you do not have curbside pick-up

BIRD FEEDERS:

  • fill bird feeders only through the winter months

  • put away feeders in the spring and instead, offer birds natural alternatives (for example, flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water)

BARBECUE:

  • burn off food residue and wash the grill right away

  • empty the grease trap every time you barbecue

  • remove all utensils, dishes, and food after eating

  • be aware that cooking odours can attract bears

FRUITS AND BERRIES:

  • pick all ripe and fallen fruit from trees and shrubs on your property

  • plant non-fruit bearing trees and shrubs

PET FOOD:

  • do not leave pet food outdoors, in screened-in areas or porches

DOGS:

  • leash your dog(s) when walking through communities or out in bear country

  • unleashed dogs may instigate a chase response that may lead the bear back to you

  • check your yards for the presence of a black bear before letting your dogs out