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FAQ: BearSmart

Important Phone Numbers

If you spot a bear or a bear persistently returns to your yard or community, call:

Fish and Wildlife

Monday to Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Report a Poacher Line


Spring and fall are the times when bears are on the move. In the fall, their goal is to eat as much as they can to fatten up before they hibernate for the winter. In the spring, hungry bears are waking up from hibernation and coming out of their dens. This means they will eat the first food they chance upon, even if it is in your backyard.

Although not all of Alberta is inhabited with bears, we live in bear territory. There are two species of bear in Alberta, the grizzly bear and the black bear. Most bears are usually quite shy; however, some bears show aggressive characteristics and can be very dangerous.

Knowing how to avoid bears and how to respond to encounters with bears significantly reduces the risk.

Tips if you encounter a bear:

  • NEVER feed or approach a bear
  • NEVER run, they can run faster than you

The following are some additional tips to help you reduce the chances of a bear being attracted to your property:

How can I keep bears wild and out of my backyard?

  • Keep your garbage and recyclable bottles and cans in bear-resistant, airtight containers. Also put garbage out in the morning of pick up rather than the night before.
  • The RMWB provides Bear Proof garbage bins for residents in rural areas. Please contact solid.waste@rmwb.ca for inquiries.
  • Ensure your compost bin has a locking cover. Any food scraps you place in the bin is covered well with decaying leaves, soil or another carbon source.
  • Remove bird feeders from your yard between April and October. Be sure to clean up any spilled bird feed off the ground.
  • Clean your barbecues. Scrub your barbecue clean after each use and store it in a bear-resistant building, such as the garage or shed.
  • Consider removing fruit trees and berry-producing bushes from your property. Bears are attracted to the fruit and berries. If you must keep the trees, pick the ripening fruit as early as possible and store them in secure, airtight containers.
  • Never leave food out for wildlife.
  • Talk to your neighbours. Let your neighbours know if you’ve seen a bear in the community, and talk to them about being BearSmart at home.

What should I teach my children about being safe around bears?

  • Do not approach the bear or irritate it by yelling or throwing things at it.
  • Never run away from a bear. Back away slowly and find a safe place, such as a building or vehicle.
  • Stay with your group and back away from the bear together.
  • As soon as you’ve reached a safe place, tell an adult that you’ve seen a bear.
  • Stay away from areas that may attract bears, such as garbage bins, berry patches and along creeks and rivers.
  • Bears are more active at dusk, night and dawn. Children should play close to the house and under supervision during those times.

How can I keep my pets safe?

  • Always keep your dog on a leash. Keeping your dog on a leash keeps it under your close control. It also prevents the dog from sniffing out and provoking a bear into an encounter.
  • Feed your pets and store pet food indoors. Keeping pet food outside can attract bears. If you must feed your pets outdoors, bring in the pet food and feeders overnight when bears are most active.

What should I do if I see a bear in my backyard?

  • Do not panic. Do not run. Quickly and calmly collect your children and pets and go indoors.
  • Notify Wood Buffalo Fish and Wildlife office at 780-743-7200 or if it’s after hours call the Report a Poacher 24-7 phone line at 1-800-642-3800.
  • Once the bear has left the area, remove anything from your property that might attract a bear. Ask your neighbours to do the same. If food sources in the area remain available, the bear will likely return.

For your safety as well as your neighbours, and to help keep bears in the wild, please ensure your yard is free of items that would attract a bear to the area. For more information about BearSmart tips, please visit www.bearsmart.alberta.ca.

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