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Evaluate Your Property

BearWise is a community effort, but you can make a difference as an individual to reduce conflicts and promote coexistence between people and bears. 

Bears will likely return to access food sources even after just one visit and can easily become habituated to human presence.  These bears can become a public safety risk and in turn must be killed by the FWC for learned behaviors that include accessing unsecure trash.

What can you do?

First, conduct a self evaluation and focus on the following:

  • Securing Your Home, Property, and Animals
    • Limit Natural Food Sources
      • Shrubs, Trees, and Bushes
        • Pay extra attention to any plants that produce nuts, seeds, and/or berries. Harvest ripened and remove fallen nuts, seeds, or berries. If bears are still attracted to your plants, construct an electric fence  for added protection.
        • What do bears eat  (or what DON’T they eat)?
      • Gardens
        • If you have a vegetable garden, pick any vegetables and edible roots as soon as they ripen.  Remove any vegetables that fall on the ground. If bears are still attracted to your garden, construct an electric fence  to deter bears.
      • Compost Piles
    • Secure Pets and Livestock
      • Cats and Dogs
        • Securely store excess food and food bowls, after your animals have had a chance to eat, in a sturdy shed , garage, or bear-resistant container .
        • Do not chain or otherwise restrict a dog’s movements so that it cannot get away from its food, as this is more likely to cause an aggressive encounter if a bear approaches the dog’s food.
        • Free-ranging cats are typically not prey for bears, however, they can be preyed upon by other wildlife such as coyotes and bobcats. Do not leave food outside unattended for free-ranging cats or feral cat colonies, as bears and other wildlife are attracted to easily available food sources. Feed your free-ranging cat in your presence and remove any excess food the cat does not eat.
      • Bees
        • The most effective way to secure apiaries is to install an electric fence.  A properly maintained electric fence is over 90% effective at keeping bears out.  See our video  and accompanying instructional sheet on how to use electric fencing.
      • Livestock
        • For livestock in small pastures or yards , secure them in a sturdy pen, yard, or pasture with electric fencing . 
        • For livestock in large pastures, a guard animal such as a dog, donkey, or llama may prevent predation by coyotes and other predators. However, not all guard animals are equally suited for all situations and environments. Certain dog breeds may provide the best deterrent against livestock predation by bears. The FWC recommends in-depth research before committing to a guard animal to protect your livestock.
        • Protect small livestock such as chickens and rabbits with electric fencing  around coops and hutches.
        • Store excess animal feed and feeding containers after animals have eaten in a sturdy shed , garage, or bear-resistant container. Do not leave animal feed or containers out overnight.
    • Feed Birds and Other Wildlife Without Attracting Bears
      • Attracting Birds
      • Bird Feeders
        • Use shelled seed and avoid red milo, as birds will typically toss this type of seed to the ground where it can accumulate and attract bears.
        • Place trays under feeders to be picked up daily and cleaned.
        • Hang feeders appropriately by suspending 10 feet from the ground and 4 feet from any attachment points, or bring inside at night.
        • Use a commercially manufactured bear resistant bird feeding station .
      • Wildlife Feeders
        • Wildlife feeders should not be permitted in BearWise communities. 
    • Protect Your Home and Garage
      • Keep outside doors closed and locked when not in use.
      • Round door knobs are harder for bears to manipulate and are preferable to flat or lever-style door handles.
      • Do not store food in screened enclosures. These are not secure from bears.
    • Trash Cans: Keep trash secured until the morning of trash pick up. 
      • Use commercially manufactured bear-resistant trash cans  by contacting your local waste service provider to request one. If they will not supply them, verify they will service one and then contact your local home improvement store to special order a can.
      • Modify your trash can to make it more difficult for bears to access.  The modified can must be sturdy enough that it will not collapse when an adult black bear stands on it, and the lid must be rigid and unbending.
        • If you have contracted waste service, first verify that your provider is willing to service a modified can. You must ask permission to modify a can provided by a waste provider.
        • Secure non bear-resistant trash cans until the morning of trash pick-up in a location inaccessible by bears.
      • Consider bear-resistant dumpsters rather than multiple individual cans in communities whenever possible. Dumpsters are easier to secure than individual containers and may represent a significant cost-savings to residents. 

*NOTE: Keeping garbage secure is the #1 way to reduce bear activity in your community

    • Porches, Patios, and Decks
      • Do NOT leave outdoor grills unattended when in use and clean them thoroughly afterwards. If mobile, securely store grills in a sturdy shed or garage.
      • Never leave used plates, dishware, glasses, or utensils unattended outside. Never leave any food unattended outside.
      • Vehicles
        • Keep vehicles secure by locking doors and closing windows. 
        • Never leave anything scented inside of your vehicle — this includes non-food items that have a scent like lip balm, garbage, coolers, air fresheners, and even medicines such as antibiotic ointment.

Invite neighbors to get BearWise with you and become BearWise Certified!