Preventing Problems between Bears and People

From www.bearsmart.alberta.ca/:

How do we prevent problems between bears and people?

  • Remember that bears are clever, curious and live to eat. Bears are in a constant search for new food sources. Once they have discovered a new food source it is extremely difficult to keep them from returning to it. To prevent problems from starting, never leave any kind of food for the bear to find.
  • Remember that bears have an excellent sense of smell. Managing the smells of potential bear food - including human and pet foods, garbage, grains and harvested animals - is an essential part of preventing problems with bears.
  • When in bear territory, keep food and garbage in airtight containers, and store anything that may have the smell of food or garbage away from humans and out of the reach of bears.
  • Be BearSmart. Most bear encounters can be prevented. Learn how to avoid bear encounters and how to react if you find yourself in an unavoidable encounter with a bear.

With more than one bear sighting in Town in less than a week, many people are asking what is attracting bears into town, and what can be done to avoid an encounter.

This is the time of year when bears need to fatten up for winter and are actively searching for abundant food sources, often covering great distances in search of something to eat. Bears have the keenest sense of smell of all terrestrial animals, and can pick up the scent of food from miles away. This is typically what brings bears into residential areas, they follow their noses until they find what they're smelling, and the source of the smell very often brings them right into some people's yards. 

Managing attractants is the best way to prevent bear encounters with humans, if a bear doesn't have a reason to wander into town, then it will move on through and keep searching for food elsewhere. 

Common Bear Attractants

  • Garbage left out overnight, or not in a bin
  • Empty pop bottles & drink cartons
  • Compost bins
  • Ripe fruit falling from trees and off bushes
  • Dirty BBQ's 
  • Bird seeds
  • Animal carcasses (hunters hanging their meat)

Residents are encouraged to keep their trash and recycling indoors or in their garages, and only take it out to the curb the morning of their regular pick up day, preferably in a durable garbage can. Empty pop cans and juice containers can emit a very powerful sweet smell, especially if left out in the sun. Pet food should never be left outdoors, as it provides wild animals with a reliable food source which they will continue to return to. BBQ's should be kept clean of grease and scraps of meat.  Yards should be kept free of ripe fruit falling from trees and bushes. Fruit falls to the ground where it ferments and emits a strong sweet odour. Picking your own bushes clean will deprive a bear of the opportunity of picking it for you, and returning another day to check if your bushes have any more fruit for them. 

If a bear finds food in a residential area, it will come back at a later date in search of more. It's important to keep our neighbourhoods consistently clean and free of bear attractants in order to prevent problem bears from returning, and so we don't have any potentially bad encounters with hungry bears in the future.

For more information on bears and preventing encounters, please visit www.bearsmart.alberta.ca/.