There's a certain serenity living on the edges of natural habitats, but when you're sharing territory with local wildlife like Ursus, commonly known as bears, life can become rather unbearable! Picture this: you wake up one morning to find your carefully sorted bin bags strewn over the front lawn - a telltale sign of a midnight marauder. This is not just an inconvenience, but also a potential danger as bear encounters can become lethal in the blink of an eye. This place you call home can sometimes feel like a camp in wild, bear country!
To give you back a sense of safety and peace in your own -and other places you reside, we’ve gathered seven tried-and-tested tips that are guaranteed to keep these formidable beasts at bay! Leave no picnic basket unturned as we venture into bear-proofing your property.
Here are some effective ways to keep bears away:
By following these simple steps, you can reduce the chances of attracting bears to your property or campsite, helping to protect both yourself and the bears, and preserving the serenity of the places you inhabit.
Bears are majestic creatures that venture into our yards and gardens in search of food and shelter. Unfortunately, their presence can be hazardous to humans and pets, which is why it's pivotal to take proactive measures to keep them at bay, away from your place.
Here are six proven tips for keeping bears out of your yard.
First, bear-proof your home by using bear-proof trash cans, locking lids, and sturdier trash cans. You can also use a locked shed to hold your garbage cans. Take your garbage out as close to pickup time as possible, double bag your garbage to contain smells, and wash your trash cans frequently to decrease lingering scents.
Second, remove bird feeders from your yard during summer months. Hang bird feeders up high and at least 10 feet off the ground, with no nearby trees. Clean up the seed under the feeder regularly, and avoid putting out birdseed for at least a month if you see a bear near your bird feeders.
Third, fencing is effective in defending garden areas and fruit trees from bears. As bears are good climbers and diggers, using heavy, chain-link or woven wire at least 8 feet high with another 2 feet below the ground is recommended. Adding a strand or two of barbed wire or electric fencing along the top is also effective.
Forth, regularly disinfecting garbage areas and double bagging and storing in airtight containers can help prevent bears from being lured to these areas. Cleaning up grills after each use and keeping all pet food and bird feeders put away is also beneficial.
Fifth, using loud deterrents in the landscape, such as boat horns, gunshots, and barking dogs, can frighten off bears. With these strategies in place, your home, camp, or other places can stay bear-free! In some cases, using chili pepper spray on plants may help, acting like bear spray in the natural world. However, this approach might not work as a long-term solution, similar to how a vehicle can lose its effectiveness without proper upkeep. They can lose fear of the deterrent with time, much like campers can become less mindful of an animal's presence with repeat visits.
Sixth, when camping, it's important to act as if you're a visitor in the home of a wild animal. Keep your food and garbage stored away from your campsite, much like you would valuables in a vehicle, and hang it at least 100 yards away. Avoid hiking alone, make noise, and carry bear pepper spray. Having bear spray is not just a good idea, but also a solid protection option, should you encounter a bear.
Now that we have looked at general tips to keep bears out of your yard, let's dig deeper into the most effective method - enforcing garbage management. Much like choosing the right option for your vehicle's maintenance can vastly improve its lifespan, choosing the right garbage management techniques can vastly reduce bear sightings.
Bears have an excellent sense of smell and can detect food sources from miles away, much like campers can smell a campfire from a distance. When it comes to getting rid of bear attractants, garbage is the most important factor to consider because bears are opportunistic feeders, much like a scavenging animal, and will go to great lengths to satisfy their hunger. Therefore, enforcing proper garbage management techniques throughout the year is essential.
The most common bear enticers include garbage cans, bird or pet food, and grills. They are also adept at digging and will enter gardens looking for roots, tubers, and vegetation. Bears also favor fruit trees and vegetables, similar to campers enjoying fresh food when out in nature.
One of the best ways to reduce bear attraction is by minimizing food odors emanating from trash cans, much like closing down windows in your vehicle to block unpleasant scents. Regularly disinfecting garbage areas and double bagging and storing in airtight containers can help prevent campers' food and bears from being attracted to these areas.
Another effective method is locking plastic or metal cans with tight-fitting lids. This step should be taken before placing them outside, similar to locking a vehicle before leaving it for an extended period - as an additional protective option.
Taking out the trash close to pickup time reduces the length of exposure for any possible bears that may be passing through your area. Additionally, using sturdier trash cans made of hard plastic or metal with tight-fitting lids is recommended. The more airtight the cans are, much like the seals on a camper's food storage, the less likely it is that bears will smell the contents.
Washing your trash cans with soap and hot water, similar to running a vehicle through a car wash, eliminates any lingering smells that might still attract bears to the area.
While composting organic waste is an eco-friendly way, much like using a non-gas vehicle, of disposing of food scraps, it can be appealing to bears and other wildlife. It's essential to bury your compost pile or invest in an enclosed composter to keep your compost pile inaccessible for any visiting bears.
Overall, enforced garbage management and proper storage of potential bear attractants like bird feeders, pet food, and grills increase safety when living in locations near bear populations. It's much like ensuring your camper's safety when parked in a potentially risky area.
After realizing garbage management's importance, similar to understanding how vehicle maintenance affects performance, let's explore methods of managing bird feeders in the next section.
Bird feeders are a common sight in most yards and attract many different types of birds. However, they also behave like beacons to bears that often raid them for an easy meal. To prevent bears from coming into your yard, it's important to manage bird feeders properly.
The first step to proper bird feeder management, much like choosing the right vehicle, is to remove bird feeders from your yard during the summer months when natural food sources are abundant. This strategy acts as an option to reduce the likelihood of unwanted bear visits. This will reduce the chance of bears, things commonly found in the woods across the country, being attracted to your yard in search of human food. If you must set up bird feeders, often acting as an unintentional food storage area, during the summer, make sure they are placed at least 10 feet off the ground and away from any nearby trees or structures that bears can climb.
Cleaning up any spilled seed under the feeder regularly can also discourage these country-residing creatures from making your yard their food storage area. If you see a bear near your bird feeder, avoid putting out birdseed for at least a month to give the bear time to lose interest and move on.
Some may argue that taking down bird feeders completely is unnecessary as long as they are managed properly. However, it's important to remember that bears have a strong sense of smell and will continue to investigate any potential food source in your yard, especially if they have found human food among your stored things before.
In addition to removing bird feeders during the summer months, using noisy deterrents in the landscape can often be enough to scare off bears from exploring the human food in your yard. Things like boat horns, gunshots, or barking dogs can all be used as noise deterrents. Some people also use chili pepper spray on plants to deter bears from eating them.
Think about a loud noise waking you up in the middle of the night - it startles you and causes you to jump out of bed. Bears from the woods aren't any different - loud noises can frighten them and cause them to retreat quickly.
Now that we have covered managing bird feeders or potential factors in your yard that may act as food storage areas for wildlife, let's move on to further protective measures like implementing garden and fruit tree protection.
Bears are opportunistic creatures and will often raid gardens and fruit trees in search of food from all around the country. To prevent this from happening, it's important to implement proper protection measures.
Fencing is an effective way to protect garden areas and fruit trees from bears, effectively keeping your produce safe from these wood-dwelling inhabitants of the country. However, bears are good climbers and diggers, so it's important to use heavy, chain-link, or woven wire fencing that is at least 8 feet high with another 2 feet below the ground. Adding a strand or two of barbed wire or electric fencing along the top can also be effective.
Fallen fruits and vegetables should be picked up regularly to prevent attracting bears. If you have a compost pile in your yard, ensure it's securely enclosed and avoid adding meat scraps or dairy products that attract bears to your food storage area.
Some may argue that fencing to protect gardens and fruit trees is too costly or difficult to install. While it may require some upfront investment in time and materials, the long-term benefits of protecting your property from potential damage and danger outweigh the costs - especially when considering preserving your human food resources.
Another way to protect your garden, as well as deter the woodland creatures we share our country with, is by planting natural bear deterrents such as mint, marigold, or garlic around the perimeter of your garden area. Bears tend to dislike these strong-smelling plants and will often avoid them.
Think about how you react when you smell something unpleasant - you instinctively try to move away from the source of the smell. Bears, notorious inhabitants of woods across the country, have a similar reaction when they encounter plants with strong odors they dislike. Implementing proper protection measures for your garden, fruit trees, and even your garage can go a long way in keeping bears out of your yard and preventing potential conflicts. This becomes very critical if you live in regions known for bear activity. By taking the necessary steps to manage bear-attracting scents and food sources, you can help solve this problem and ensure the safety of both yourself and these magnificent creatures.
Bears are opportunistic feeders, and they will look anywhere for food, even venturing as far as investigating the scent of food inside a garage. They are attracted to anything with a strong scent or anything sweet. The smellier the food, the more it will appeal to them. Bears have a keen sense of smell, so much that they can detect food from over a mile away. Knowing what attracts bears and tracking their activity is important in preventing them from entering your property.
One summer evening, I forgot to clean up my barbecue grill after having a cookout. In the middle of the night, I heard some noises coming from my backyard. When I looked out, I saw a bear rummaging through my garbage cans and then heading towards my grill. It managed to drag off the grill grates from the barbecue! From that day on, I've learned my lesson and always make sure to clean up after barbecues. The next morning, I found bear tracks leading from the garage, which is where I usually store my garbage bins, towards the direction of the grill.
Discarding food scraps or leftovers in unsecured garbage cans or leaving pet food outside can be huge attractors of bear activity. The scent of bacon grease, meat drippings, canned cat/dog food, poultry scraps or rotten fruits and vegetables all lure bears in search of an easy meal. Dirty grills and uncleaned bird feeders also attract bears. These scents should immediately be eliminated or controlled.
Bear's attraction to sweet-scented items is like bees to flowers. Just as bees are attracted by sweet nectar, bears too are drawn by sweet-smelling foods like fruit trees and flower gardens.
Now that you have understood what draws bears into your yard let’s discuss how we can humanely deter them.
If we want to keep bears out of our yards without hurting them or ourselves, we need to adopt non-lethal, humane means of doing so. Scare tactics are a powerful tool to keep bears from getting too comfortable around our homes.
Bears are usually wary and will flee if they hear or smell danger. For example, the sound of banging pots, clapping hands, or other loud noises can make bears uneasy and encourage them to leave their immediate vicinity. Garden hoses, motion-sensitive sprinklers, and radio sets left on at night can also deter bears.
Recently our reader John shared his experience with us about using scare tactics for bear deterrence. He put up a few solar-powered lights around his vegetable garden as he found out that bears don’t like bright light. Whenever he heard any rustling noise from the trees, he would switch on the lights which scared the bear away each time.
However, some argue that scare tactics like air horns and noisemakers can bring risks to both humans and bears alike. Bears may develop immunity and disregard human efforts when they find out there is no real danger in the repeated scares. Additionally, such methods can stress out cubs who depend on their mother's milk resulting in malnourishment and distress.
Therefore, responsible use of scare tactics is essential in deterring nuisance bears without causing harm to them or ourselves.
While scare tactics are effective in keeping bears off your property temporarily, you should be ready for further measures in case this proves ineffective. In the next section, we will discuss some extreme measures you should consider if you happen to face dangerous encounters while establishing coexistence through the above-mentioned methods.
Sometimes, despite all efforts to deter bears from your yard, these wild animals can still find their way into your property. This is where extreme measures come in handy. In such instances, you may have to consider two options - bear pepper spray or professional assistance.
Bear pepper spray is an effective deterrent that can help you add an extra layer of security around yourself and your property. It is a non-lethal solution that can easily be carried in the form of a canister. Its active ingredient - capsaicin - irritates the eyes, nose, and respiratory system of bears, causing them to retreat quickly. You should keep the canister nearby when hiking or spending time outdoors in bear-prone areas or even while camping.
However, not all bear pepper sprays are equal in effect. It's essential to choose one with at least 2% capsaicin concentration. Ideally, it should have a range of 20-30 feet and enough spray volume for several uses. Make sure you are well-versed in how to use it effectively before relying on it as your go-to bear deterrent.
If bear encounters become frequent occurrences on your property despite precautionary measures taken, you could consider engaging wildlife professionals who specialize in trapping and relocating bears safely and humanely. They have experience and specialized equipment for capturing wild bears under safe conditions without harming them.
However, some people criticize this approach, arguing that they become increasingly difficult to deter once they start associating humans with food. Relocated bears may quickly find another source of food and create problems elsewhere. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand that relocation should only be done by licensed individuals under specific circumstances.
Think about it like this - relocating a problematic bear is like sending a child to another classroom because they disrupt class. The child may not cause trouble in the new class at first, but if their underlying issues are not addressed, they will continue to be difficult elsewhere.
Relocation can only be deemed necessary when a bear has become habituated and poses an imminent danger to humans. In such circumstances, licensed wildlife professionals should always be consulted. It is vital to recognize that for bears to remain wild, we need to foster conditions that enable them to persist in their natural environments without compromising human safety.
In conclusion, while it's tempting to take extreme measures like bear pepper spray or professional assistance as quick solutions, they should always be considered as last resorts. Engaging in proactive mitigation measures will help keep bears away from your yard, reduce the opportunities for negative interactions and help preserve the lives of bears as well as your own safety.
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