A black bear family has recently been seen roaming the streets of Chelsea, Quebec, and surprising residents with visits to their homes, CBC reports.
However, this is not an isolated incident. Homes have encroached into forested areas, and over the years there have been numerous reports about bears venturing onto residential properties. Just last week, a mother bear and her five cubs made their way onto a Rockaway Township home in New Jersey to take a dip in the family’s pool.
While black bears are not naturally aggressive, they can be, especially when a mother is with her cubs. So it is important to be aware of the safety precautions to help avoid conflicts.
Avoid human-bear conflicts
Bears tend to be attracted to residential areas by the smell of human food, Wild Safe BC reports. Thus, it is important to remove any outdoor food from the property, including bird feeders and fruit on trees, and to ensure proper storage of your garbage — always use certified bear-resistant garbage containers, and keep the garbage indoors until collection day.
Clean your barbecue grills, don’t store food outside (including in freezers), and do not place bones, cooked food, eggshells or fish in compost. And always feed your pets indoors and store their food inside.
Remember, bears are opportunistic animals and want to consume whatever is readily available to them. After several failed attempts at finding food around homes, bears should go back to their natural environment.
Understand bear behaviour
You should also distinguish threatening behaviour from non-aggressive. If a bear stands on its hind legs, this is usually because it is trying to smell the surroundings or to get a better view; this is seldom a threatening reaction, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reports. Whereas jaw-popping and huffing tend to be nervous behaviours.
Never run if you encounter a bear
If you do come face to face with a bear at your home, then you should stay calm and slowly back away while facing the bear, and as you move away, make noise to let the bear discover your presence, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reports.
Give the bear room to escape (they seldom tend to attack unless they feel cornered), and do not run or make any sudden movement. Also, try to make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms, but do not appear too aggressive, as this may intimidate some bears. Avoid eye contact.
In the rare case that a black bear does attack, fight back with any object available: sticks, rocks or even your bare hands.