Clear Lake Property Owners Association Clear Lake Property Owners Association

Seeing a wild black bear is an exciting and memorable experience. There are black Bears in Muskoka and they have been seen around Clear Lake, so it is always important to be aware that you may encounter a bear at any time. Most conflicts between people and black bears are the result of people approaching and feeding bears, or allowing a bear to obtain garbage and pet feeds. Learning the appropriate Black Bear Safety Techniques will minimize the possibility of an encounter.

You are responsible for your safety and the safety of the bears. Please help keep our black bears wild by not approaching or feeding them.

Black Bear

Black Bears At A Glance

The black bear is the smallest of the North American bears, and the only one that is distinctly American. Our other bears, the brown-grizzly and the polar, also inhabit Asia and Europe. The black did not originate on this continent. It came over from Asia on the Bering Land Bridge about 500,000 years ago. Unlike the pugnacious grizzly, which is rapidly disappearing, the furtive black bear has learned to adapt to man and has survived in many parts of the country. Though known to attack when provoked, the black generally gives humans a wide berth.

A large male black bear weighs on average 300 to 400 pounds (the female considerably less), stands 27 to 36 inches high at the shoulder, and is 4 to 5 1/2 feet in length. This bear does not have the prominent shoulder hump which characterizes the brown-grizzly.

The black bear has a straight face when seen in profile. Its eyes are small and the ears are well-rounded. It has 42 teeth: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars and 10 molars. The canines are long and well pointed; the premolars are rudimentary or even missing; and the molars have flat crowns.

The bear is plantigrade, walking on the soles of its feet. There are five toes on each foot, each armed with a strong, curved, nonretractable claw. The black bears front claws are about 1 1/4 inches in length, and it is the only North American bear that often climbs trees as an adult. The black bear is also unique in that it comes in a wide range of colors. A typical black bear has long, lustrous jet-black hair over most of the body from its head down to its tiny tail. On its muzzle and around its eyes, the hair is light-colored. Most black bears have a splash of pure white on their chests. This splash may vary from just a few hairs to an area about a foot across. Black bears also come in almost every shade of brown and some are bright blond. One race of the black bear is a smoky-blue and another race is pure white.

Healthy wild black bears rely on berries, insects, vegetation, fish and carrion to survive. They generally mate during May and early June. They hibernate primarily due to lack of food, usually between November and April, though this varies. Healthy mothers produce 1 to 2 cubs every 2-3 years. To learn more go to

Black Bear Safety Techniques

Please Don't Feed Bears

  • Bears should never obtain human food, pet/livestock feeds, or garbage. Bears that receive these "food rewards" may become aggressive towards humans or cause property damage. To protect people and their property, these bears may have to be destroyed.
  • Wild bears have a natural fear of humans and will attempt to avoid people and developed areas fed bears do not!
  • Wild bears rely on natural foods such as berries and fish. Fed bears will abandon vital food sources for human foods and garbage!
  • Wild bears quickly become conditioned to handouts and will teach their cubs to do the same.
  • Wild bears fed along roads tend to stay near the road - increasing vehicle-animal accidents.

Hiking in Bear Country

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Carry bear pepper spray.
  • Read all signs at the trailhead.
  • Hike in a group, and keep children close at hand.
  • Make your presence known (call out).
  • Hike during daylight hours & stay on the trail.
  • Watch for bear signs: scat, claw marks, diggings, logs or stumps torn apart, etc.
  • Avoid taking pets, they may attract bears to you.

Bear Pepper Spray

Bear Pepper Spray is not a substitution for following appropriate safety techniques.

  • Bear pepper spray is not the same as personal defense spray, it must be E.P.A. registered.
  • Bear pepper spray must contain 1.3%-2% capsaicin and related capsaicinoids. Suggested spray distance is at least 25 feet in a cloud pattern lasting 6 seconds or more.

Camping In Bear Country

  • Always keep a clean camp.
  • Use a designated camping area.
  • Don't leave food out when not in use. Store it in bear-resistant storage unit, hard shelled vehicle or car trunk.
  • Use bear-resistant trash receptacles.
  • Set up tents with space between them.
  • Keep pets on a leash.
  • Keep your sleeping area, tent and sleeping bag free of food and odors.
  • Don't sleep in clothes you cooked or food.
  • Keep a flashlight and bear pepper spray readily available.

Black Bear Encounters

Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A black bear will usually detect your presence and flee the area before you notice unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their foods.

  • If a black bear is visible, but not close, alter your route so that you will move away from its area.
  • If a black bear approaches, do not run. Remain calm, continue facing the bear and slowly back away. If the bear continues to approach, try to group together and pick up small children. Try to scare the bear away by shouting and acting aggressively.
  • If a black bear attacks, it is suggested to fight back using everything in your power fists, sticks, rocks, and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray.

Residential Areas

Minimize odors and the availability of food rewards throughout your yard and community.

  • Put out garbage on the day of pick-up, not the night before. Store in sturdy building or place in a bear- resistant trash receptacle.
  • Do not leave pet food out. Hang bird feeders out of reach of bears.
  • Keep bar-b-ques clean and grease free. Store with livestock/pet feed inside a sturdy building.
  • Pick all ripe fruit from the tree and surrounding ground as soon as possible.
  • Vegetable gardens and compost piles may attract bears. Do not put meat, fish or other pungent scraps in compost pile. Add lime to reduce odors and accelerate decomposition.
  • An electric fence is an effective way to keep bears out of orchards, gardens, compost piles, and beehives. Follow appropriate safety precautions.

Bear activity may intensify in spring when bears are hungry and emerging from their dens, in the fall when bears are bulking up for hibernation, and during drought periods. This is due to the scarcity of natural foods.