Common Bear Attractants:
Human garbage is a primary bear attractant. Garbage left out over night has a 70 percent chance of attracting a bear. Garbage put out in the morning has only a two percent chance of attracting a bear. * Trash should be stored during the week in a bear-proof location. Freeze particularly smelly items, and keep your trash container clean. Once rewarded, the bear will return again and again. In a matter of days, this bear will be in the habit of looking for human food. A fed bear is a dead bear.
*1994 Arizona study
Remove birdfeeders in March through November. Birds don’t need supplemental feed at this time, and birdseed is irresistible to bears. When using birdseed, store it in a bear-resistant container in a secure location. Hummingbird feeders are especially attractive to bears. Seeds and sweetened liquids are high in calories. As an alternative to attract hummingbirds, hang flower baskets including fuschia plants.
Grills with food and grease attract bears. Keep grills clean after each use and store them in a secure location. Do not store propane tanks from grills indoors, due to the fire hazard. Attend to food as it cooks outdoors, and when it is done promptly remove anything that would attract a bear including coolers, utensils, leftovers and used paper plates and cups. Avoid pouring grease on the ground.
Pets and Pet Food
Pet food and food bowls should not be filled and left out overnight, or left unattended. Feed pets indoors. Especially avoid feeding pets outside at dawn or dusk when bears are most active. Store pet food in a safe, secured area or in a bear-resistant container. Provide chickens with a secure building, especially at night.
Anything other than grasses and leaves should not be composted outdoors. Composting meat, fish, oil, dairy, kitchen waste, melon and other fruit are all odorous and can easily lure a bear to your home.
Don’t leave food or garbage in a vehicle or the back of a pick-up truck as bears will pry open the windows and doors to access food.
Fruit Trees And Gardens
Bears crave fruit including apples, plums, and chokecherries. In the fall, pick fruit as it ripens and avoid leaving fruit under the tree. Pick garden vegetables as they ripen and plant your garden as far away from your house and away from natural bear cover as possible. Blood meal and fish fertilizer also attract bears. Bears can severely damage a tree laden with ripe fruit. Electric fencing, when properly used, may protect gardens and fruit trees from bears. If you absolutely do not want bears in your yard, it would be best to remove all fruit-bearing trees and berry-producing shrubs in favor of trees and shrubs that don’t attract bears.
Bears generally do not present a threat to livestock, but special caution should be taken during lambing and calving. The use of protective animals such as guard dogs is growing in popularity among ranchers practicing non-lethal wildlife management and can be very effective in deterring bears. Electric fencing is also a good way to prevent livestock depredation. Store livestock feed in a secure location or in a bear-resistant container.