New to the Soo – OMG a Bear!


This was my thought yesterday after there was an “aggressive bear” spotted out near the hub trail. That and I’m glad I wasn’t assigned to go take a picture of it.

For anyone who has lived here for any amount of time it probably isn’t news. Just like Moose, blackflies and snow, bears are just another thing you learn to get used to when you live here.

However if you are like me and have moved here, learning about an aggressive bear being around may give you pause.

Don’t they hibernate? What do I do if I see one?

As someone new to the Soo I look for expert advice, as a journalist I then bring it to you with examples everyone may understand.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has a full page dedicated to what to do if you see a bear. They note black bear attacks are extremely rare.

I’ve decided to put my examples beside the very serious tips for those who might also be in my situation and really have no clue.

Tip number 1 from the MNR is do not panic, stop and remain calm.

Ex. What I read is do not make eye contact, do not approach, but take in the beautiful features of the adult black bear which can weigh north of 500 pounds and don’t run … check.

Another tip, slowly back away and keep the bear in sight … Climbing a tree, swimming and running are not advised.

So no climbing the tree beside you (probably not my first option buy hey!) and still no running like a maniac who has never seen this animal and is scared beyond belief and just wants to get away quickly … gotcha.

MNR then lists throwing objects at the bear, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or horn if the bear is not leaving.

Once again … still DO NOT RUN, the good news is now you can now get rid of some of that internal panic energy by jumping up and down and screaming … screaming is good.

I personally think they missed check underwear at about this stage.

If that does not work, prepare to use bear spray, get inside shelter, drop any food you might be carrying and slowly move away.

Just to clarify they want us to make the bear angry by spraying it, still no running allowed and drop all food. The food part for me was probably done around step 1.

They also forgot to say pray for those of use inclined to do so.

If the bear attacks which again is extremely rare, fight back with everything you have, use bear spray and do not play dead unless you are sure a mother bear is attacking in defence of her cubs.

No example needed here note still DO NOT RUN.

Seeing a bear can be an amazing experience according to some locals, personally I do hope to see one in the wild.

Knowing what to do when you see one, how not to attract them and when you may need to call 911 is an essential lesson in living in the north.

The full page of what to do when you encounter a bear can be seen here Be Bear Wise and prevent bear encounters |

If you have any tips for readers please feel free to put them in the comment section.


  1. Another tip. Make yourself look bigger and one way to do that if you’re wearing a coat or shirt that can be unbuttoned or zipped open is to hook your hands under the corners and lift them above your head, like a cape. A friend who does bear rehab and so is extremely experienced with them told me he has discovered that there is something about green plastic garbage bags being shaken around that really sends bears packing. Of course the trouble with that method is most of us don’t carry such bags into the woods, but if berry picking it might be a good idea to do so. Main thing, indeed, is DO NOT RUN, ever, from any bear.

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