Be bear smart this summer

With provincial parks opening up and camping season starting June 1st, the province is reminding people to be safe around wildlife, especially bears.

As bears wake up from hibernation, they try to establish new territory and search for food, which can sometimes result in them encountering humans.

Greg Johnson, manager of the province’s Wildlife Training Unit, says that the best way to prevent a meeting with a bear is to make sure all your food and trash is cleaned up and secure.

“Biggest thing with bears is that they’re ruled by their stomachs, and if they’re hungry and they smell food and find food, they will come to that area, whether there are humans there or not,” said Johnson. “So, garbage, pet food, anything like that, that’s left lying around, they will find that and be attracted to it.”

Johnson says some of the best ways to keep your food safe, is to seal it up in a container and put it inside your vehicle so that animals can’t smell it. He adds that if campers keep their sites clean, a bear most likely won’t come.

For campers who might be worried about bringing their dog along, Johnson says it’s ok.

“Bears, if there’s a dog barking, they may not come near it, unless they’re really hungry,” said Johnson. “Most times they’re not interested in being around a barking dog. Your dog should be ok, in most cases, it should be fine.”

He says that people hiking with their dogs should keep them on a leash, as a roaming dog may aggravate a bear.

If you do happen to come across a bear, or any other predator, Johnson says you need to do a few things.

“Just stay calm, don’t run, make a wide detour, calmly go back into your trailer if you can, or your vehicle, speak in low tones, don’t look directly at them, or course never feed it or approach it, even if there are cubs,” said Johnson. “In most cases, bears, if they’re not threatened, they won’t attack

Anyone who finds themselves in a potentially dangerous situation with a large predator should contact their local Ministry of Environment office or call Saskatchewan’s 24-hour Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line at-1-800-667-7561. SaskTel subscribers can also reach the TIPP line by dialing #5555 on their cell phones.

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