Another Bear Attack

13 May 2013 Wildlife Stories

The recent black bear attack in northern Ontario near the town of Cochrane is an alarming reminder for all cottagers to be vigilant when we head to the cabin this spring.

Why Did The Bear Attack?
The man who was recently mauled and almost killed had been enjoying his breakfast on the cabin deck when the bear came out of the woods and attacked him. Seasoned cottagers and campers are in shock because this is not your traditional black bear behaviour and the bear’s unusual aggressiveness may be a warning that we should all be preparing for a much higher incidence of bear problems in the coming weeks and months.

With this year’s hard winter and the late arrival of spring, hungry black bears are having problems finding food at a time when they need it most. Mother bears are emerging with their new cubs and struggling to get enough to eat as the delayed start to the growing season is resulting in a shortage of their traditional spring forage.

Bears don’t normally search out people as a food source, but will encounter cottagers and campers when investigating the smell of a possible meal. Whether the bear in the recent incident planned to eat the man or simply thought he was competition for the meal at hand, we don’t know, but any time a hungry bear has picked up the scent of food, the threat of an attack becomes very real.

How to Avoid A Bear Attack

Food And Garbage Attract Bears
In order to avoid bear attacks, cottagers and campers need to be careful with their food and garbage this spring. All food should be stored in a fridge or freezer or sealed in a cooler and locked in the vehicle. Garbage should be kept to a minimum, not left outside, and disposed of at a proper location as soon as possible.

Barbecues must be cleaned thoroughly after being used and leftover hot dogs, burgers, etc. should not be thrown into the fire pit. In fact, given this season’s circumstances, it may be a good idea to avoid roasting hot dogs and marshmallows altogether.

Keep An Eye On The Kids
We don’t want to go into panic mode and ruin everyone’s fun by putting the younger cottagers under house arrest at the lake, but it is important to keep tabs on the whereabouts of all family members and visiting friends. The normal rules should apply: explore in groups, check-in regularly, and avoid high risk activities such as following bears.

If you plan to do some hiking on the long weekend, keep in mind that hungry bears are going to be around. It is important to create some noise while you are walking in the woods. Wearing bear bells is an effective way to ensure bears get an early warning of your presence, and the animals will normally take off when they hear you coming. It is also a good idea to carry a can of bear spray in case a bear gets too close. Mother bears with cubs can be especially dangerous, so keep your distance and avoid the temptation to get close for a photo opportunity.

Bear spray, bear bell, and a loud horn you can take to the cabin.
For the U.S. / For Canada

Go to the Bear Tips page to see what you should do to avoid a bear encounter and how to react in case you are attacked by a bear.

Read our featured story: A Black Bear Comes for Brunch about our editor’s own encounter with a curious black bear.

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