Information from a pamphlet produced by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
'Bear-proof' your property. No matter where we live in Bear Country we're never too far from bears, spectacular animals that, unfortunately can get into trouble with humans. Homeowners, remember that bears have an extremely good sense of smell and will check out anything that smells like food. They also have good memories - once "rewarded" with food, a bear will return with regularity to sites where they once got a free meal. The best approach is to 'bear-proof' your property by storing food, garbage and other attractants away from bears.
Stored garbage often attracts bears. Once a bear uses human garbage as food, it is very difficult to persuade the bear to leave the area. Bears that are drawn to stored garbage but are unable to obtain feed will usually leave and not return.
Some Garbage Care Tips
- To decrease odors, store garbage in tightly tied or heavy duty bags.
- Store garbage in 'bear-resistant' dumpsters or garbage cans.
- If a bear-proof container is not available, store the garbage inside until it can be taken to a refuse site.
- Take advantage of regular trash pickup services. Don't stockpile your garbage - it will begin to smell and may attract a bear.
- Store extra smelly items like fish parts and meat bones in a freezer until they can be taken to a refuse site.
Bears are intelligent creatures. It doesn't take long for a bear to realize that improperly stored garbage is an easy source of food. The pattern of events is predictable: A bear feeds on garbage and people enjoy the spectacle. After a few visits, the bear loses its fear of humans because the lure of garbage is greater than its natural tendency to avoid people. When the bear no longer fears humans, someone usually gets hurt and the bear is destroyed.
'Garbage bears' are often killed because it is the only practical option available. Transported bears often return from great distances to their home territory, and those that don't return take their raiding habits with them to new areas. The adage that "A Fed Bear Is A Dead Bear!" is usually true.
Bears are very opportunistic and eat basically everything that humans and their pets and livestock do.
The following is a breakdown of typical bear attractants and what you can do to avoid inviting a bear to your home:
Bird Feeders - Only place as much bird feed in the feeder as birds can consume in a few hours. There will be less spillage on the ground and less waste.
Hummingbird feeders - Bring in at night.
Dog food - It is always best to feed dogs inside. Feed only that amount that your dog can consume at one time.
Horse grain and cubes - Store all grain and cubes in bear-resistant containers, sheds or structures. When feeding, feed only that amount that your horse can consume at one time.
BBQ's - Keep clean and in a garage or shed when not in use.
Orchards - Clean up fallen fruit immediately - don't allow fruit to rot on the ground.
Compost piles - Composting of anything other than grass or leaves is not recommended.
Gardens - Avoid growing aromatic vegetables, fruits or herbs. Root crops are best but can still attract the interest of a hungry bear.
Electric fences (the more strands the better) have been used successfully in a variety of circumstances where bears are attempting to access human foods or garbage. Properly constructed fences can deter bears from attractants including garbage storing facilities, beehives, orchards, gardens and even sewage lagoons. Electric fences are relatively inexpensive to install but take regular maintenance. It is not recommended that electric fences be used around human dwellings, as some bears have been known to jump or push their way through an electric fence when startled by the electric shock.
Chain link has been used to successfully keep bears out of landfills, sewage treatment areas, and trash collection centers. Chain link fence alone has been used successfully in areas of low bear concentrations and where bears have not been exposed to food sources. Occasionally, bears have dug under or climbed over fences to reach food sources. It is recommended that the chain link fence be buried 3 feet in the ground. A concrete pad under the gate may be necessary.
Shed construction should consist of a material strong enough to prevent the bear from chewing through it, and be fitted snug enough to prevent the bear from getting their claws underneath the material. Bears are very strong and have been known to tear siding off when they have been able to get their claws under it. Good bets for wall materials are concrete block, bricks, steel siding, or heavy wooden siding.