Protect Your Property and the Wildlife that Make it Special

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BEAR SAFETY HOMEPAGE // FOR RECREATIONISTS // FOR VISITORS // FOR COMMUNITIES

If you own or manage a piece of property in bear country, be it a small coffee shop, backyard garden or a sprawling ranch, bear safety should be a consideration. Preemptively securing attractants will help prevent conflicts on and damage to your property. Like any neighbor, sharing landscapes with grizzlies can bring both annoyance and joy. These recommendations and tools are here to help ease the burden and help you, your loved ones and your neighborhood wildlife all stay safe. This checklist can help you assess what hazards exist on your property and this guide serves as a good starting point for how to secure or remove them.

What are Bear Attractants?

Photo by Patti Sowka of grizzly trying to open bear-proof garbage container
Bear-proof garbage containers measurably lower the chances of human-bear conflicts (Photo: Patti Swoka).

As opportunistic omnivores, bears are attracted to many things that might not initially strike us as obvious food sources, like bird feeders, compost, barbecues, gasoline and more. Bears also have abundant natural food sources like berries, mushrooms and roots, but when smelly and easily accessible food is available on our properties they can be tempted to come back again and again. Ensuring they don’t get a food reward the first time, through preemptively rather than reactively securing attractants, will help keep bears in the wilderness where they belong and moving quickly on when they do end up in our backyards. Check out our blog for a deeper dive into some of the most common attractants and how to secure them. 

A variety of community groups are available to help with things like fruit gleaning, bear-resistant garbage cans and electric fencing. We encourage you to check out your local resources to ease the burden of making your property as bear-proof as possible.

Ranchers and Farmers

When managing a large-scale agricultural operation there are already many stressors and to-do’s, so adding bear-safety measures to them can feel overwhelming. Luckily there are many time-tested and innovative tools available, and with the right support making these changes can be a rewarding process that honors the deep connection between working lands and wildlife conservation. Across the West, farmers and ranchers are often leading and maintaining the necessary open space protections and habitat stewardship that keeps these amazing animals as part of our collective natural heritage. 

Check out our Conservation Partners page to learn more about groups supporting coexistence on working lands. Livestock guardian dogs, range riders, fladry, scare devices, carcass pick-ups, depredation compensation (check state and local policies) and electric fencing for chicken coops, orchards, grain silos and more are commonly used and effective tools. 

In Town

While the commotion of a city or town center will keep some bears out, many communities in the Northern Rockies lie along movement corridors and natural resource pathways like rivers. If unsecured attractants also tempt a bear to wander through and stay in town, the potential for reinforcing problematic behavior is high. Check your local ordinances and resources for bear-resistant garbage management, as well as this guideline for securing common backyard attractants, including alternatives for bird feeders. 

Break-Ins

If you find yourself in a situation where a bear does visit your property and is acting destructively or aggressively, stay indoors with doors and windows locked and call your local wildlife management agency or the police if it’s an emergency. Never feed, approach or touch bears, even abandoned cubs. Tips for what to do in an aggressive bear encounter can be found here, and as always, bear spray is a must-have tool for your house, car and backpack.

Learn more about Vital Ground’s Conservation Partners…