Black 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.
- Don’t feed birds while bears are active. Attract birds with water feeders, plantings and nest boxes instead.
- Store garbage in bear-resistant containers, enclosures or buildings.
- Put trash out the morning of pick up, not the night before.
- Keep bear-accessible windows and doors closed and locked at night.
- Keep garage doors closed. Lock the door between the house and the garage.
- 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.
- Don’t leave pet food or empty pet food dishes outside. Store pet food in a secure enclosure.
- Put chickens and small livestock in a secure pen at night or electric fence their enclosure.
- Pick fruit and produce as soon as, or just before, it ripens.
- Unwelcome mats and electric fencing are proven ways to keep bears out.
Taking time to bear-proof could save homeowners a lot of time, trouble and money. And help save a bear’s life.