In South Frontenac, we love the outdoors. Spending so much time outside means ensuring we have a good understanding of the elements and animals in nature that that can cause harm. 

The following information has been taken from Province of Ontario's website. Additional resources are also listed within each section for those looking for additional details. 


Concerns about bears, encounters with bears? Bears want to avoid humans, most encounters are not aggressive and attacks are rare. Visit the Ministry of Natural Resources website for more information or call 1-866-514-2327 to report a bear sighting.

Garbage is the number one reason bears are drawn onto properties, followed closely by bird seed, suet and nectar, and barbecues. Whether you are business owner with excess garbage, a farmer, or just visiting the cottage, there are a few simple precautions you can take to avoid problems with bears and other animals too. 

General Bear Wise Tips

When bears are caught off guard, they are stressed, and usually just want to flee. 

Stop. Do not panic. Remain calm.

Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous it is, provided you do not approach. The noise is meant to “scare” you off and acts as a warning signal.


  • Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave.
  • If the bear does not leave, throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle or air horn.
  • Prepare to use bear spray.
  • If you are near a building or vehicle get inside as a precaution.
  • Drop any food you may be carrying and slowly move away.
  • If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Leave the area. The bear will come down when it feels safe.

Do not

  • Run, climb a tree or swim.
  • Kneel down.
  • Make direct eye contact.
  • Approach the bear to get a better look.
  • Attempt to feed a bear.

Learn more about how to to be Bear Wise at 

Be Bear Wise at Home or the Cottage

Most human-bear conflicts occur when bears are attracted by smells and rewarded with an easy meal. When bears pick up a scent with their keen noses, they will investigate it – even at your home or cottage. If bears are rewarded with feasts of bird food, garbage or pet food, they will return as long as the food source is available. It takes all residents working together to eliminate these attractants and to stop bear problems.

Download Tips (PDF)

Here are some tips to help avoid these unwanted visitors:

  • fill bird feeders only through the winter months
  • never purposely feed bears (or other wildlife) or try to approach them
  • only put garbage out on garbage day, not the night before
  • store garbage in a bear-resistant container with a tight-fitting lid, secure shed or garage. Do not store garbage in plywood boxes, old freezers or vehicles
  • do not use outdoor fridges or freezers, including beverage fridges, as these may attract bears to your property
  • do not stockpile garbage; take it to an approved waste disposal site regularly
  • keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day
  • remove grease and food residue from barbecue grills, including the grease trap, after each use
  • do not put meat, fish or sweet food (including fruit) in your outdoor composter
  • pick all ripe fruit off trees, and remove vegetables and fallen fruit from the ground
  • encourage your neighbours to practise Bear Wise habits

When leaving your cottage make sure to:

  • remove your garbage: take it home or drop it off at an approved waste disposal site on your way
  • use a strong disinfectant to eliminate all odours from garbage and recycling containers and lids
  • never discard cooking grease outside: place it in a container with a lid, transfer it to a plastic bag and include it with other properly stored garbage
  • take your barbecue with you when you leave the cottage, or clean it and store it in a secure shed
  • do not leave any food or food scraps outdoors for pets or other wildlife
  • when packing up, remember to remove all the food from the inside of your cottage
    • a box of pudding or fruit-flavoured dessert mix is all it takes to attract a bear
  • do not leave scented products outside
    • even non-food items like suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap and candles attract bears
  • close and lock all windows and doors
  • if you are away for an extended period of time, have someone you trust check in and look for signs of a bear visitor or break in
  • if you rent your cottage, tell your tenants the importance of being Bear Wise
Be Bear Wise at Work

Bears love food and leftovers. Food service operations such as restaurants, fast food establishments and roadside snack bars often have substantial amounts of garbage behind their buildings or stored nearby. Black bears are attracted to the smell of human food and garbage, and often come around foraging for an easy meal.

Download Tips (PDF)

What business owners can do:

  • avoid stockpiling garbage – including edible oils
  • use bear-resistant containers wherever possible and secure the lids at all times
  • lock dumpster lids every night or use containers that are self-locking
  • empty garbage containers frequently
  • put garbage out on the morning of collection day, not the night before
  • if your business takes its own garbage to the dump, make sure that it is stored securely behind closed doors or in a bear-resistant container, and take it to the dump frequently
  • clean your garbage containers frequently and thoroughly
  • pay particular attention to storage and disposal of edible oils and greases, and use disinfectant to eliminate odours
  • share this information with your staff and advise them to be cautious when approaching bins, particularly at night
  • consider installing motion-activated lights
  • encourage customers to use garbage containers, and to not leave scraps or garbage on the ground
Be Bear Wise on the Farm

Black bears often approach farm properties to find food, especially when their natural food sources are scarce. There are several things you can do to keep bears away from your farm so that the use of firearms becomes a last resort.

Download Tips (PDF)

Tips for farmers

  • Plant grain or cornfields as far away from the edge of the forest as possible. Leave a swath of open land or pasture between crops and the forest edge.
  • Pick all ripe fruit off trees and remove vegetables and fallen fruit from the ground.
  • Use electric fencing around orchards, beehives and vegetable and berry patches, or between grain crops and adjacent forest areas. Electric fencing can also help protect your animals and livestock. Install electric fences before bears become a problem or as soon as possible if bears are a problem. Electric fencing works best to deter bears if they have not become food-conditioned.
  • Keep your livestock away from woodlots and bear travel routes.
  • Ensure that calving areas are located in an open space away from forest cover.
  • Dispose of dead stock according to legal requirements, and in a manner that bears cannot access them, since bears will eat carcasses.
  • Be alert for bears when working in bear habitat.
  • Develop a network with your neighbours to help keep each other informed about bears in your area.
Who to Contact 

For Emergency situations

Call 911 or your local police if a bear poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, such as:

  • enters a school yard when school is in session
  • stalks people and lingers at the site
  • enters or tries to enter a residence
  • wanders into a public gathering
  • kills livestock/pets and lingers at the site

Police will respond first to an emergency situation, but may request assistance from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry during daylight hours.

For Non-emergency encounters

Call the toll-free Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 (TTY 705-945-7641 ) if a bear:

  • roams around or checks garbage cans
  • breaks into a shed where garbage or food is stored
  • is in a tree
  • pulls down a bird feeder or knocks over a barbecue
  • moves through a backyard or field but does not linger

This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from April 1 to November 30.

Any concerns about- other nuisance wild life (coyotes, foxes, bears) should be directed to the Ministry at 1-800-667-1940.

Gypsy Moths

The populations of European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) seemed to intensify in the summer of 2020 in a broad area across Southern Ontario. But the signs were there that the populations were building before then, as forests in Southwestern Ontario were heavily defoliated in 2019. Gypsy moth can easily spread as egg masses that are laid on surfaces such as cars and campers. Once they hatch, the new larvae hang on silken threads and disperse locally by the wind.

Check out the information below or download one of the following resources:

  • Invasive – native to Europe.
  • This European defoliator feeds on a wide variety of trees.
  • The first detection of gypsy moth in Ontario occurred in 1969; however, widespread defoliation did not occur until 1981.
  • Established populations exist south of a line from Sault Ste. Marie east to North Bay and Mattawa; a separate infestation exists in New Liskeard.
  • The Ontario distribution coincides with the range of the insect’s preferred hosts of oak; however, no known populations of gypsy moth exist in northern parts of the range of bur oak north of New Liskeard in the northeast region, and west of Thunder Bay to Lake of the Woods in the northwest region.

“Invasive” refers to a species that has moved outside of its native habitat and threatens the new environment, economy or society by disrupting local ecosystems.

"Defoliator" refers to species that eats leaves.

Host species (Trees)

Hosts range from oak (Quercus), birch (Betula) and aspen (Populus) in the north, to various hardwoods such as sugar maple (Acer saccharum) American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and softwoods such as eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), balsam fir (Abies) and Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) in Southern Ontario.

Characteristics and life cycle
  • Overwinters in the egg stage often on the bark of trees.
  • In spring, eggs hatch and larvae ascend the trees to feed on the new foliage.
  • Initially, feeding occurs during the day, but as the caterpillars mature feeding occurs mainly at night — often this can delay the detection of infestations.
  • Mature larvae are 50 mm long, dark coloured, hairy, with a double row of five pairs blue spots, followed by a double row of six pairs red spots, down the back.
  • Feeding is completed in July.
  • Male moths are light brown and slender-bodied, while females are white and heavy-bodied.

Two dark, hairy caterpillars with blue spots at the front and red spots at the back eating a leaf.    Gypsy moth adults laying eggs

Symptoms and damage
  • Gypsy moth outbreaks occur every 7 to 10 years.
  • Larvae chew holes in leaves or devour entire leaves.
  • In late July, spongy egg masses can be observed on the trunks and branches of infected trees.
  • Understory shrubs and plants may also be affected.
  • During severe outbreaks, trees and shrubs are completely defoliated over large areas; despite the trees’ ability to produce a new crop of leaves over the summer, the damage causes significant growth loss.
  • Defoliation makes trees more susceptible to secondary pests, drought, and poor growing conditions.

Gypsy moth defoliation

Control measures

You can take a localized approach to manage gypsy moths on your own property. Each control option will depend on the gypsy moth life stage and the time of year.

Learn how to protect trees on your property.


TimingLife StageControl Options

August to mid-April

Egg masses

Remove egg masses and discard

Mid-April to mid-May

Early stage caterpillar

Apply biological pesticide

Mid-May to June

Late stage caterpillar

Attach burlap bands and discard larvae

June to mid-July


Remove by hand and discard

July to August

Adult moth

Short-lived; focus on other stages

Natural controls

Natural predators and pathogens are the main reason the gypsy moth outbreak in North America is collapsing.

Nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV)
  • NPV is a viral infection known to kill gypsy moth larvae once the virus builds up in a population.

  • It can spread quickly from infected larvae to non-infected larvae, killing them.
  • Dead larvae hanging on a tree in an upside-down “V” is a sign that the virus is at work in the population.
Entomophaga maimaiga
  • A fungus known to cause gypsy moth populations to collapse.
  • Cool, wet conditions provide an ideal environment for the spread of this fungus.
  • Dead larvae hanging vertically along tree trunks that appear brittle and desiccated is a sign that this fungus has killed gypsy moth larvae.
Predation and parasitism
  • Birds, mammals and other insects are known to prey on gypsy moth.
  • A species of wasp called Ooencyrtus kuvanae is known to parasitize gypsy moth eggs and can reduce gypsy moth populations.
Cold weather
  • Extended days of extreme cold (−20 degrees Celsius) may kill overwintering larvae in exposed egg masses.
Regulation and monitoring

Gypsy moth is a regulated pest by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA  is responsible for establishing and maintaining standards to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests in Canada.

Forest health is monitored every year by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. We conduct ground and aerial surveys to map major forest health disturbances on the landscape. When pest populations reach outbreak level, we may complete pest specific forecast surveys to help predict defoliation for future years.

State of gypsy moth in 2020

The Province began aerial forest health surveys in early July after a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions. Flight lines were based on:

  • public reports of potentially infested areas
  • 2019 survey data
  • knowledge of previously infested areas

They did ground verification surveys after the aerial surveys. This included collecting gypsy moth specimen samples to confirm species identification in the laboratory.

Areas affected by gypsy moth defoliation in 2020

Defoliation caused by gypsy moth in Ontario increased from 47,203 hectares in 2019 to 586,385 hectares in 2020.

This area included both light and moderate to severe defoliation mapped in the southern region (561,469 hectares) and 24,916 hectares mapped in the northeast region.

All affected districts reported an increase in area defoliated from 2019. Visit Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regional and district offices to see a map of districts.

Defoliation caused by gypsy moth was most severe in forest stands containing species of:

  • oak
  • maple
  • poplar
  • willow
  • other broadleaf trees

In some areas, gypsy moth defoliated conifer species including eastern white pine. 

Gypsy moth populations in 2021

In 2020 the Province conducted surveys to forecast anticipated gypsy moth populations in 2021 based on fall egg mass density, which is the number of egg masses on trees in a given area. They use this data to help predict defoliation.

Other factors can also contribute to unforeseen gypsy moth population collapse, including:

  • climate
  • fungus
  • viruses
  • parasites

Although the gypsy moth is still considered an invasive species that federal quarantine legislation regulates, it has evolved to a state of naturalization. This means the gypsy moth population may have periodic predictable outbreaks, which is what we saw in 2020.

Township of North Frontenac Mayor, Ron Higgins, inquired at the 2020 Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) virtual conference if the Province had any plans in place to introduce a Crown land spraying program to combat the Gypsy Moth infestation. Please see the below video from the AMO conference detailing Minister John Yakabuski's response:


For More Information

Visit the Province's webpage dedicated to Gypsy Moth information and study or visit forest health conditions page to read their annual report summaries. Other useful sources include

For more information, email

Lyme Disease & Ticks

The Government of Ontario reminds everyone to take the necessary precautions when spending time outdoors to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a potentially serious infection that comes from being bitten by an infected blacklegged tick. Infected ticks can be found almost anywhere in Ontario, particularly in wooded areas or areas with tall grasses and bushes, including city gardens and parks.

The areas where ticks can be found are spreading, and as a result, more Ontarians are at a greater risk of getting a tick bite. By taking simple precautions, you can protect yourself and your family so that we can all enjoy the outdoors safely.

When spending time outdoors, you can protect yourself from tick bites by:

  • Wearing light-coloured clothing so it’s easier to spot ticks.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into your socks, and closed-toed shoes.
  • Using an insect repellent with DEET or icaridin in it, which is effective and safe when applied as directed on the label.
  • Staying on marked trails.
  • Checking yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors and removing any ticks promptly, and washing your clothes after an outdoor activity.

Lyme disease is preventable and can be treated successfully if the necessary precautions are taken. While ticks are most active in the spring and summer months, they can also be found during the fall when temperatures are still above freezing. I encourage everyone to follow these simple steps year-round to protect yourself and your families.

Blacklegged ticks are small and hard to see. If you find ticks on your body, remove them immediately with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. If you have any symptoms or health concerns after a tick bite, consult a health care provider as soon as possible. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

While outdoor activities can help improve physical fitness and mental wellness, they are not risk-free and COVID-19 transmission can occur as a result of outdoor gatherings. It remains critical that Ontarians continue following public health measures to reduce transmission of the virus, protect hospital and public health capacity, and save lives.

Quick Facts

  • Infected blacklegged ticks can be found almost anywhere in the province, and there have been over 2,000 cases of Lyme disease in Ontario since 2019.
  • Early symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding rash.
  • If left untreated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak. In severe cases, it can affect your heart, nerves, liver and joints, and, in very rare cases, cause death.
  • While ticks are most active in spring and summer, they can be found during any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.

Additional Resources

For more information on ticks and Lyme disease, visit:

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)

Noxious Weeds

Wild Parsnip 

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is an invasive plant native to Europe and Asia. It was likely brought to North America by European settlers, who grew it for its edible root. Since its introduction, wild parsnip has escaped from cultivated gardens and spread across the continent.

Wild parsnip, which is also known as poison parsnip, is a member of the carrot/parsley family. It typically grows a low, spindly rosette of leaves in the first year while the root develops. In the second year it flowers on a tall stalk and then dies. The plant can form dense stands and spreads quickly in disturbed areas such as abandoned yards, waste dumps, meadows, open fields, roadsides and railway embankments. Its seeds are easily dispersed by wind and water, and on mowing or other equipment.

Like giant hogweed and other members of the carrot family, it produces sap containing chemicals that can cause human skin to react to sunlight, resulting in intense burns, rashes or blisters.

For more information on how to identify, remove, or manage wild parsnip, visit the Province's website

Other interesting links


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