Environment Canada is reminding residents that spring is the time of year to be “Bear Aware” as Saskatchewan’s black bear population becomes more active following their long winter hibernation. 

Black bears can be found in most of the province, while more frequently spotted in the forests of northern Saskatchewan. Their range also includes the aspen parkland, Touchwood Hills, the Qu’Appelle Valley and the South Saskatchewan River Valley. 

Being “Bear Aware” recognizes the primary motivations of these intelligent animals, that being their instinctive drive to search for food and put on fat before the winter arrives. 

Bears will wander their territory searching for food and will depart if food is not readily available. Keeping areas such as yards and campsites free of attractants like pet food, trash, bird feeders, and dirty barbeques can reduce the likelihood of unwanted human-bear interactions. 

To ensure public safety and reduce the creation of habituated and food conditioned bears, it is against the law to feed bears (and other carnivorous animals such as wolves, cougars, and coyotes). 

Exemptions to this law exist for hunters and trappers when they are operating under a license when legally baiting these animals. 

Environment Canada offers this advice to keep yourself and your property safe when in bear country: 

  • Storing garbage in a secure building or buying a bear-resistant container. Only put the bin out on the morning of collection. Wash all recycling items and regularly clean garbage or recycling bins.  

  • Ensuring pet food is stored where it is not accessible to wildlife. Only use bird feeders in the winter while bears hibernate.  

  • Not adding fish, meat, fat, oils, unrinsed eggshells or any cooked food to backyard compost.  

  • Properly clean and store barbecue grills after each use.  

  • Not cooking, eating or storing food in your tent or tent trailer. Store food in air-tight containers in the trunk of your vehicle. 

  • Placing all garbage in the containers provided. Do not burn or bury scraps.  

  • Cleaning fish only at designated fish-cleaning stations.  

  • Keeping your pet on a leash while hiking. 

Call 911 if a bear or any other wildlife poses an immediate risk to people's safety. To report an encounter with aggressive wildlife, call the Turn in Poachers and Polluters (TIPP) line at 1-800-667-7561. Concerns regarding bears or other nuisance wildlife can be reported to the Ministry of Environment by calling 1-800-567-4224 or email center.inquiry@gov.sk.ca.  

Additional information about bears and bear safety is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/wildlife-issues