For Homeowners

Bears are highly curious, smart and resourceful. They spend most of their waking hours industriously searching for food. Part of your job as a responsible homeowner is keeping them from finding any at your place. Living with Bears Handbook shows you how to live safely and smartly where bears live too.


LWB2-CVR-crpd300pxRGB"I learned right away what was attracting bears to our yard. I also learned not to be so very afraid as I gained a tremendous amount of info about bear behavior and what to do if I encounter one outside or inside."

Martha V. Hillson, North Carolina homeowner

How to keep your vacation home safe when you're away

By Linda Masterson; excerpt from Chapter 12 of LIVING WITH BEARS HANDBOOK

SnowmassKitchenDamage-72dpiIf you live in bear country part time, it can be tough to remember to “think like a bear” every time you head back home. But bears don’t have second homes. Taking time to be bear smart and posting information for guests and renters can prevent problems and protect your home and property.

Outside Your Vacation Cabin / Home
•    Odors of all types attract bears. Take all food, garbage, trash, empty bottles and cans, packaging and recyclables with you. Don’t leave insect repellents, citronella candles or other scented products outside.
•    Wash out garbage cans and recycling bins and store inside.
•    Thoroughly clean and disinfect your BBQ grill, picnic and deck tables.
•    Bring in all bird feeders and birdseed, and store in a bear-proof location. Clean up fallen seed or hulls.
•    If your area has a history of bear break-ins, install unwelcome mats.

Inside Your Home
•    Creating a bear-proof storage area inside your home or garage can be a good solution when it’s not practical to take all bear-attractants with you. Use a bear-proof garbage can, or install a sturdy, locked enclosure or locker well away from windows, doors, and exhaust.
•    Clean pet dishes and put away.
•    Lock all windows and doors in your home and garage, including screen doors and sliding doors. Close curtains, shades and shutters. Drop a metal or wood rod in the track of sliding doors to prevent bears (and humans) from breaking the latch and opening the door.
•    Leave unscented odor-removing air fresheners in all rooms.
•    Leave a note with your contact information, in case there is a problem.
•    When you leave for the season, empty the refrigerator and freezer, thoroughly clean and disinfect, and leave an open box of baking soda inside. Store foods, beverages and spices in your locker.
•    Store scented products, including toiletries, lotions, sunscreen, lip balm, hair spray, shampoos and soaps, toothpaste, insect repellent, scented candles, and air fresheners in your locker or a sturdy lidded tub.

10 Tips for Bear-Proofing Your Home Year-Round

Bear-HotTub-72dpiBlack bears are always looking for food. Their super-sensitive noses can sniff out odors from up to five miles away. Things we humans don't consider food like smelly trash, pet food, birdseed and hot tub covers smell good to a bear. Chickens, beehives and ripening fruits and vegetables are also highly appealing.

Once a bear learns that human places provide an endless supply of high-calorie foods, it will keep coming back for more. Bears determinedly searching for food can easily damage property or even injure someone. That's why thousands of black bears needlessly lose their lives each year.

"When a bear learns to rely on people for food, its days are numbered. When we teach bears to avoid people places, we give them a much better chance of living a long and natural life," explains Linda Masterson, author of Living with Bears Handbook.

  1. Don't feed birds while bears are active. Attract birds with water feeders, plantings and nest boxes instead.
  2. Store garbage in bear-resistant containers, enclosures or buildings.
  3. Put trash out the morning of pick up, not the night before.
  4. Keep bear-accessible windows and doors closed and locked at night.
  5. Keep garage doors closed. Lock the door between the house and the garage.
  6. Don't leave anything inside your vehicle that could attract a bear. That includes sun tan lotion, hand crème and air fresheners, along with empty food wrappers and packaging.
  7. Don't leave pet food or empty pet food dishes outside. Store pet food in a secure enclosure.
  8. Put chickens and small livestock in a secure pen at night or electric fence their enclosure.
  9. Pick fruit and produce as soon as, or just before, it ripens.
  10. Unwelcome mats and electric fencing are proven ways to keep bears out.

Taking time to bearproof could save homeowners a lot of time, trouble and money. And help save a bear's life.


Completely updated and expanded

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  • Bearproofing homes and property
  • Solving trash problems
  • Feeding birds, protecting pets
  • Gardening
  • Keeping chickens and livestock safe
  • Deterring bears
  • Preventing and responding to encounters at home

Is a bear at your house right now?

In case of an emergency, call 911.

For non-emergencies, contact your state wildlife management agency.

Helpful Downloads

How to Tell a Black Bear from a Grizzly

pdfBear Calorie Counter

From huckleberries and acorns to beehives, birdseed and dog food, a list of calories that bears love to eat.

pdfWhere Black Bears Can Be Found

A map of where nearly 900,000 black bears roam in North America.

Go Electric


An electric fence has the power to keep bears out of landfills, apiaries, cabins, campsites, campers, livestock enclosures, grain sheds and just about anywhere else you don't want bears to go. Portable electric fences can be set up and functional in less than two hours, and solar-powered systems can be installed anywhere there's enough sun to charge the batteries. There are even lightweight, battery-powered fences that can protect a campsite.

Find more info in the Living With Bears Handbook, and under Resources.