Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
It's August: What are black bears doing in Ontario parks?

Ontario black bears are busy searching for food in August!

They only have a few months before going into hibernation.

In August, black bears focus on finding delicious berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Guess what time it is?

It’s time to gain weight!

Bears need to gain a lot of weight in a short time.

From the time the bears enter their den to hibernate until the natural foods ripen again, the next In summer, bears can lose about a third of their body weight.

This is because they do not eat when they are hibernating and use body fat for energy.

black bear at the campsite

A bear weighing 150 kg can lose up to 50 kg from the time it enters the den in November, until natural foods become abundant in July. This cycle occurs every year. Black bears go through a cycle of feast and famine each year.

Here’s a quick video on why food is so important to bears and some things you can do to help reduce human-bear conflict.

Have the bear cubs been weaned yet?

Black bear cubs born in the den in January/February are busy little furballs in August.

Every day they learn new things from mom, including what to eat!

bear cubs

The puppies are still nursing, although the weaning process is underway. They increasingly get more calories from natural foods, such as berries.

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The family unit is still closely knit and will hibernate as a group in the fall.

Bear families stay together for 17 to 18 months.

Where do bears hang out in August?

You will find bears where the berries are ripe.

Bears can be seen near hydroelectric lines, forest disturbances such as areas where a fire has recently burned, roadsides, and forest edges.


They have excellent long-term memory and will return to areas where they found abundant food sources in the past.

Black bears are most active during dawn and dusk.

Be Alert: Watch for Bear Signs

Black bears will leave many signs of their presence.

Upturned rocks, claw marks on trees, and fresh bear scat are signs of recent bear activity.

bear and cub

In August, black bears are so focused on consuming delicious berries that they may not hear an approaching human, so make plenty of noise when you are in bear territory.

If you see berry bushes that look like they have been trampled, a bear may have been foraging there.

What happens if I encounter a bear?

Millions of visitors enjoy a safe and enjoyable visit to Ontario parks each year.

Random clapping, a quick “Hello bear,” and lots of conversation will deter most bears from your vicinity; However, it is important to be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

bear hanging on the tree

It is important to know how to react to an encounter with a bear.

Never run or climb a tree.

Bears are faster and better climbers than all humans. Approaching a bear is a bad idea. Bears have personal space just like humans and every bear is different.

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If you see a bear before it sees you, stop, don’t get closer to get a better look. Go quietly in the opposite direction, while he watches the bear until he is out of sight.

If the bear is or notices your presence, calmly identify yourself as human. He raises his hands above his head and says, “Hey, bear.”

Most of the time, as soon as the bear knows you are a human, it will run in the opposite direction.

For more information on what to do when you encounter a bear, visit the Bear Wise website.

What’s wrong with my dog?

Free-roaming dogs cause problems for wildlife.

In provincial parks, all dogs must be on a leash of two meters or less at all times, unless in an authorized off-leash location.

This is especially important in bear country.

bear chasing dog

Loose dogs can harass a bear and then return to their owners. This can trigger a chase response that can lead the bear back to the owner.

Keep your dog on a leash to reduce the chance of a negative interaction with a bear.

Be careful with bears

Black bears are amazing animals.

Let’s do everything we can to respect and coexist with the black bears that call our protected areas home!