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Attractant Management

Experts agree that the careful management of bear attractants is the first and most important step in controlling ‘bear problems’. In fact, the term should be ‘people problems’, not ‘bear problems’, as bears are motivated by hunger, not malice. The problem is ours.

Many of us remain sceptical as to our responsibility in attracting bears. Even after we have seen the bear in the yard or had the trash raided, we often continue to deny our personal responsibility. By the time we recognize our mistakes, it is often too late for the bear.

The following bear attractants should be managed to ensure bears don’t move into your neighbourhood. Use this checklist to ensure that bears do not become human food conditioned and/or habituated due to your carelessness. This will help reduce safety concerns surrounding bear encounters and the unnecessary destruction of bears.

Garbage

  • Store garbage in a secure building until collection day or consider purchasing a bear-resistant household container.
  • Ensure bins are tightly closed.
  • Regularly wash all recycling items and clean the bins that contain garbage or recycling.
  • Do not leave garbage in the back of a truck, even if it has a canopy.
  • If you cannot store garbage securely, freeze smelly items and add to the bin only on the morning of collection.

Fruit Trees

  • Pick fruit and allow it to ripen indoors or pick daily as it ripens. Do not allow windfall to accumulate on the ground.
  • If you do not want the fruit, prune the tree vigorously to prevent blossoms or spray spring blossoms with a garden hose to knock them off.
  • If you would like to make the fruit available to others, contact a local fruit exchange program or food bank.
  • Consider using electric fencing to protect your fruit trees.
  • If you no longer want to manage your tree, consider replacement with a native, non-fruit bearing variety.

Berry Bushes

  • Berries should be picked as they ripen.
  • Consider replacing your bushes with native, non-fruiting varieties if you do not want the fruit.
  • Consider using electric fencing to protect your fruit trees.

Livestock and Feed

  • Keep feed secured.
  • Keep chickens in at night.
  • Use electric fencing to protect livestock.
  • Keep young animals close to the home and protected with electric fencing.
  • Don’t bury carcasses in areas where you wish to exclude bears.

Bird Feeders

  • Use bird feeders only in the winter when bears are hibernating and natural bird food is limited.
  • Use bird baths or native plants to attract birds without attracting bears.

Compost

  • The key to a healthy compost is ensuring equal amounts of brown and green materials.
  • Layer your greens, such as kitchen scraps and fresh grass clippings with no more than 10 cm of browns, such as dried leaves, grasses, shredded newspaper and cardboard.
  • Do not add fish, meat, fat, oils, un-rinsed eggshells or any cooked food .
  • Add oxygen by turning regularly.
  • Avoid overloading the compost in fruit season - freeze material and add gradually.
  • Avoid adding cereals or grains.

Pet Food

  • Feed pets indoors.
  • If pets are fed outside, ensure all food is cleaned up.
  • Store pet food in a secure location or in a bear-resistant bin.

Barbeques

  • Clean barbeques after use by burning off the grill entirely.
  • Remove and clean the grease trap after every use.
  • Cover and/or store indoors (do not take propane tank indoors).

Even more ways to prevent bears from gaining access to human food

  • Protect beehives with electric fencing.
  • Store freezers indoors if possible. If left outside, clean outside of freezer after every use to remove food residue.
  • Food smokers and the preparation and curing of wild meat can be an attractant – consider using electric fencing or an electrified mat.
  • Store petroleum products in a secure enclosure.
  • Never leave a cooler outside unless it has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Vegetable gardens may become an attractant if a bear has already gained other food rewards on your property. Consider electric fencing.

To Keep Bears Moving Through the Area…

  • Thin out brush to reduce natural cover close to buildings and along paths.
  • Install motion-sensor lighting on walking paths to ensure a clean line of sight and to discourage lingering bears.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked. Cooking smells can lure hungry bears.