Police around the GTA are reminding residents to take safety precautions following recent bear sightings.

During the summer months, it is not uncommon for bears to wander in from rural areas in search of food, police say.

If you do see a bear, remember to stop, not panic and remain calm. Follow these steps:

  • quickly assess the situation and try to determine which type of an encounter this might be a sighting, surprise or close encounter
  • do not try to get closer to the bear for a better look or picture
  • make sure the bear has a clear escape route — don’t corner a bear
  • always watch the bear and slowly back away until the bear is out of sight
  • get inside, if you are near a building or vehicle
  • leave the area, if you are berry-picking, hiking, camping, jogging or cycling
  • if you are with others, stay together and act as a group
  • if the bear does not get closer to you, slowly back away, talking to the bear in a quiet, monotone voice

Here are some precautions to take to avoid attracting bears:

  • Store garbage properly; odour attracts bears
  • Clean garbage containers with a strong cleanser
  • Remove bird feeders during foraging periods 
  • Do not put sweets or meat in the compost
  • Pick fruit as it ripens and don't let it rot on the ground.
  • Freeze meat scraps until the day garbage is picked up
  • Clean the barbeque regularly
  • Protect livestock feed
  • Use appropriate fencing for apiaries, fruit trees and landfill sites
  • Ensure pet food is taken inside at night

Police say to call 911 if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety. Call 911 if a bear:

  • Enters a school yard when school is in session
  • Stalks people and is lingering at the site
  • Enters or tries to enter a residence
  • Wanders into a public gathering
  • Kills livestock/pets and is lingering at the site

If the bear sighting does not pose an immediate threat, you can call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327.

Click here for more on what do to and how to prevent bear encounters.