Black bear sightings in residential neighborhoods are on the rise these days due to a rebound in the previously threatened black bear population, an expanding human population, and encroachment of human development into black bear habitat. While the rebounding black bear population is good news overall, black bear sightings in residential neighborhoods are, at best, a nuisance. In a worst-case situation, the presence of black bears near your home can potentially be an extremely dangerous situation for both humans and the bear. The following black bear safety tips for homeowners can greatly reduce the risk of negative interactions between humans and bears in residential neighborhoods.
Black Bear Safety Tip #1 – Reduce Black Bear Foraging in Garbage Containers
Always use black bear-resistant garbage containers if you live in an area known to be inhabited by black bears.
Wash garbage containers with a bleach solution regularly and sprinkle with lime to reduce odors.
Rinse food cans, meat wrappers, and other items that contained food (such as chip bags) before disposing of them.
Place meat scraps in the freezer until garbage pickup day.
Place garbage cans outdoors on the morning of garbage pickup, not the night before.
Black Bear Safety Tip #2 – Reduce Opportunistic Feeding By Black Bears
Black bears are opportunistic feeders. If you inadvertently provide a food source around your home, they will learn to associate your property with food. That’s bad news for you and the bear. Reduce sources of food for black bears around your home by following these guidelines.
Never feed your pet outdoors.
Never place meat or sweet foods in your compost pile.
Do not feed birds if you live in an area known to be inhabited by black bears.
Harvest ripe fruit from trees and bushes around the home promptly. Remove fallen fruit promptly and dispose of it in bear-resistant garbage containers.
Clean grills, smokers, and fire pits thoroughly after use. Remove fallen food and drippings from the ground.
Store these items in a secure indoor location when not in use.
Do not leave coolers – even empty ones – outdoors.
Never leave food outdoors unattended and promptly remove anything that has been used to hold food or drink after dining outdoors. This includes unopened canned items (yes, even beer and soda cans), used paper plates, cups, plastic cutlery, paper napkins, etc. Anything that has the scent of food on it can attract black bears.
Black Bear Safety Tip # 3 – Reduce Non-Food Black Bear Attractants
Black bears will attempt to eat anything that smells good. Do not leave scented candles, soap, suntan lotion, or insect repellent outdoors.
Black Bear Safety Tip # 4 – Know What to Do If You Encounter a Black Bear Near Your Home
Do not approach the bear. Make sure you are not standing between the bear and its escape route.
Make the bear aware of your presence by talking loudly or clapping.
Back away from the bear slowly. Keep the bear in sight, but avoid direct eye contact. Do not run.
Alert local police or wildlife officials if the bear is threatening the safety of humans, livestock, or pets or if the bear is causing property damage.