As warmer weather settles in, the province is reminding people to be aware of bears.

Black bears are found throughout the province but are most commonly found in northern Saskatchewan. Though their range does extend southward into areas such as Aspen Parkland, Touchwood Hills, the Qu’Appelle Valley, and the South Saskatchewan River Valley.

“Remember, Saskatchewan is bear country; bears and other wildlife are a natural part of our landscape. Taking some simple, proactive steps can help protect us and the bears from potential conflicts,” Environment Minister Dana Skoropad said.

Bears can become a nuisance and a threat when they associate humans with their food source. Some everyday things that can attract bears include pet food, household waste, and overloaded compost bins. Attempting to remove these as well as other attractants can help reduce the chance of bear encounters.

Some simple steps residents can take in bear proofing their yards include: storing garbage in a secure building or buying a bear-resistant container; only putting your garbage bin out on the morning of collection; washing all recycling items and regularly cleaning garbage or recycling bins; storing pet food where it is not accessible to wildlife; only using bird feeders in the winter while bears hibernate; not adding fish, meat, fat, oils, unrinsed eggshells, or cooked food to compost bins; and properly cleaning and storing barbecue grills after each use.

If a bear or other wildlife is posing an imminent risk to your safety, call 911. To report an encounter with aggressive wildlife, call the Turn in Poachers and Polluters line at 1-800-667-7561. To report concerns about nuisance wildlife, including bears, call the Ministry of Environment at 1-800-567-4224.