The black bear in Gatineau Park

The forest is the black bear’s home. To be safe in the forest, it’s important for people to be informed and act prudently.

Black Bears

Normally, black bears flee humans. However, when food is scarce, they are more likely to approach humans. This is particularly true if they detect easily obtainable food, or if they are used to the presence of humans.

Here are a few tips to follow when camping in Gatineau Park:

  • Keep food away from animals. Store food in the trunk of your vehicle. If this isn’t possible, place the food in a bag and hang it from a tree branch at least three metres above the ground and one metre from the trunk of the tree.
  • Do not leave garbage or leftover food in or near the campsite.
  • Do not eat or keep food or cosmetic products inside your tent.
  • Wash dishes promptly.

What should you do if you meet a black bear?

There are several ways to react when confronted by a bear. At all times, you must give the bear the opportunity to flee. Make sure you are not between a female and her cubs.

Although each confrontation is unique, the following advice is helpful to bear in mind.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk of meeting a black bear — which usually just wants to avoid humans.

  • Travel in groups.
  • Do not feed animals.
  • Avoid attracting bears with the smell of food.
  • Never approach a bear; keep your distance (100 metres or about 330 feet).
  • Leave the area if you see signs that bears are nearby (such as excrement, logs torn to pieces, overturned rocks and so on).
  • If you’re walking your dog make sure it’s on leash at all times.

Five tips to enjoy Gatineau Park and respect Park wildlife

Regardless of the activity that you enjoy in the Park, it is important that you always be aware that the area is first and foremost a wildlife habitat. Here are five tips for Gatineau Park users to help respect the Park’s wildlife.

The black bear’s behaviour will inform you of its intentions

Black bear standing up

Black bears sometimes stand up on their back paws to see better. They also lift their noses to smell better. These behaviours, even if they are accompanied by low growling, are not signs of aggression.

However, chattering of teeth or loud blowing should be considered warnings. If the black bear hits the ground or hits objects with its paws, or if it looks like it’s going to charge, it is clearly showing that it does not want you in its territory.

If the black bear attacks

It is extremely rare for black bears to attack humans. In fact, the probability of being hit by lightning is greater than that of being attacked by a black bear.

In case of a real attack:

  • Do not play dead. This technique may work if you’re facing a grizzly bear, but it probably won’t work with a black bear.
  • Defend yourself. Struggle, yell, hit the bear with a rock, stick or paddle. An energetic and vigorous defence increases your chances of making the black bear leave.

Please report any bears displaying abnormal behaviour to Gatineau Park Visitor Centre.

Contact the NCC emergency line if you observe an animal behaving in a way that could put Park users at risk. Call 613-239-5353.

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