Black Bear Basics: Preventing Problems

Above: Photo taken of a bear in a tree in the town of Fawnskin, California. See more bear pictures here.

Locals have nicknamed one of the bears that has moved into town to dine on the garbage left out for pick up on Wednesday night, “Yogi.” One email said he was on his way to a “picca nicca”–aka trash digging.

But the problem is that some people might really think the local bears are Yogi Bear or Boo Boo–wrong–they are wild animals.

Since the wildfires last summer, the sightings of wildlife has increased significantly. Not only did one of my neighbors see a cougar jump off her roof but another a few miles down the road glimpsed “the beast of Big Bear” ambling down her road during the late morning hours.

Up the road, the bear garbage gourmet has learned how to pop off the locking lids of “bear proof” trash cans.

Although people might like the wildllife viewing, for the welfare of the furry freeloader it is best to always follow the following tips if you live in or near bear country:

  • Rinse food cans and wrappers before disposal. Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them periodically.
  • Don’t leave trash, groceries or animal feed in your car.
  • Place trash cans at the curb on collection day rather than the night before. If trash must be kept outside, invest in a bear-proof garbage cage or keep inside your garage or shed.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
  • Only provide bird feeders outside during the coldest months of the year—generally November through March—and always hang feeders so they are inaccessible to bears.
  • Plant your garden in the open, away from cover.
  • Don’t keep an open compost pile, especially one in which household leftovers are dumped. Burying compost is also not advisable, as bears will easily dig it up if motivated by enticing odors.
  • Keep barbecue grills that are on decks or close to the house clean. If possible, move the grill well away from the house when not in use.
  • Don’t feed pets outdoors and remove their water when you bring them in.
  • Block access to potential sleeping sites such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.
  • Don’t leave any scented products outside. Non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap, and candles can serve as attractants

For additional tips for living with bears visit the Wind River Bear Dog website, or download and print the Living with California Black Bears brochure (PDF).

You can also read what the Arizona Department of Fish & Game black bear page has to say. The Lake Tahoe Council for Wild Bears helps those who have encountered bears in that area of California and you can read about the black bear challenges Ann Bryant and her volunteers face.

If more people followed the above common sense tips it would help reduce the chance of having these animals being called in as nuisance critters…and might even save their lives.

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  1. […] is exciting to most people and very scary to others but here are some urban black bear tips for getting along with the local bruins–check it out if you want to avoid […]