GUEST POST: Bear Etiquette 101

Did you know that Redden’s has a sister camp, Pye’s Landing?! We’ve invited them to share their most popular blog post with us this week! Read on to up your bear knowledge!

Redden's Camp.jpg

It's camping season - which also coincides with bear encounter season! 

What can you do to discourage bears from visiting your camp, and what to do in the case of an encounter? Here are some Bear Wise tips to keep in mind!

Prevent an Encounter: At Camp & Home

Though their usual prerogative is to avoid humans, bears are attracted to food, and are creatures of habit. Once a bear discovers a food source, they will return time after time, and may try to enter dwellings! Keeping your yard and site unwelcome to bears helps keep the whole community safer!

Here are some ways you can lessen the chances of a bear visit at home or camp:

  • Don’t leave garbage out overnight, and only put it out the morning of garbage day

  • Store waste in containers that have secured lids, and keep in a bear-proof spot such as a garage

  • Disinfect garbage cans regularly to remove scents

  • Bird feeders attract bears, so limit use to winter season, and during the summer offer natural alternatives such as flowers,

  • Clean BBQs by burning off food residue, emptying grease traps, washing the grill, and dealing with dishes/leftovers promptly

  • Fruit trees can encourage bears to enter yards - minimize risk by picking ripe and fallen fruit

  • Keep pet food inside the home

Prevent an Encounter: On the Trail

Travel in groups - bear attacks seldom occur in groups of two or more. The key while out in the wild is to alert bears (and any other wildlife) of your presence. Sing, whistle, or talk when in areas with limited visibility or when near a noisy water source.

  • Be aware of surroundings, and don’t wear headphones

  • Look for signs of bears

    • tracks

    • claw marks on trees

    • flipped over rocks

    • fresh droppings

  • Keep pets on leash - an untrained pet may lead a bear right to you, and could further escalate an encounter if one occurs

  • Rise slowly if in a crouched or low position to not startle nearby bears

  • Carry deterrents

    • whistle, air horn, bells

    • bear spray - keep it easily accessible and know how to use it

    • consider carrying a long handled axe if in deep bush

What To Do in an Encounter

Bears usually want to flee when caught off guard, and the important thing is to stop what you’re doing, don’t panic, and remain calm. Bear attacks are rare - and the bear will provide warning signs, detailed below, to let you know if it feels threatened. A bear standing on hind legs is not aggressive behaviour, it is curious and trying to catch your scent or see you better.


  • Run, climb trees, or swim - a bear is much more skilled at these things than you

  • Kneel down

  • Make direct eye contact


  • Back away slowly with bear in sight, and wait for it to leave

  • If bear doesn’t leave, throw objects, wave arms, and make noise with whistle or horn

  • Prepare to use bear spray

  • If near a building or car, get inside

Bear Warning Signs

  • Defensive Bears (feels threatened)

    • Drool

    • Huff, moan, clack jaws

    • Lower its head with ears back while facing you

    • Bluff charge and/or swat the ground

  • Predatory Bears

    • Will approach silently and may continue advancing despite attempts to deter them

    • Be prepared to use bear spray and fight back

    • Do not play dead unless you’re sure the bear is a mama protecting her cubs

After an Encounter

  • Report the encounter by calling 1-866-514-2327 between April 1 and November 30

  • Tell neighbours/other folks on the trail

  • Remove/secure any non-natural food sources that the bear had access to

When to Use Self Defence

If all means of deterring and preventing an encounter have failed and a bear will not leave the property and your safety is at risk, you have the right to protect yourself. Killing a bear must be an action of last resort, and must be done according to local laws (such as firearm by-laws), safely, and as humanely as possible. A hunting licence is not needed to kill a bear in self-defence. A kill you are not intending to keep must be reported immediately to the local Ministry of Natural Resources. A kill that is kept must be registered with MNR with a Notice of Possession.

Looking for more information on bears? The Ontario website has great Bear Wise tips, facts, and information!

Wishing everyone a happy bear-free summer!

Pye’s Team

Jenna Marie Schwartz