As our cities and towns grow, we expand further and further into wild animal territory, and more often you hear of problems with critters in backyards that don’t belong. Sometimes these animals are more of a nuisance than anything else, while some offer a bit bigger of a problem than we can handle on our own.
Bears are one animal that more homeowners are playing unwilling host to for daytime or night raids, and it certainly pays to know how to prevent a visit. The main reason a bear will visit a homeowner’s yard is to find food. Bears are omnivores, which means they eat pretty much everything; fruits, nuts, veggies, and meat. Even if your yard is an incredibly tidy one, your fruit trees or small flock of chickens can be a heady attraction for a bear. A bear will tear open fencing, climb a tree to pick fruit or nuts, and will most certainly open and plough through the contents of your garbage cans to find himself a tasty snack.
A compost heap can be another big attractant for these animals, as a bear will happily salvage any leftover food your family has turned away. These animals don’t take kindly to people or dogs attempting to shoo them off grounds, and will certainly attack if someone gets too close. If you do find a bear in your yard, don’t set your dog on it or try to deal with it yourself; call Fish and Wildlife or the local authorities and stay inside. Call your neighbours and alert them as well, as a bear will usually head from one yard to another and nobody wants to be caught unawares.
There are some great ways to help prevent a visit to your home from these animals, and avoid tricky situations in the first place.
Chickens and other critters.
If you have pets or keep farm animals, it’s best to have them locked up safely at night so that they don’t attract predators. Electric fencing is a great deterrent; especially if you set it up so that the bear has a chance to feel the shock against its vulnerable nose or tongue (a bear’s coat will protect it from the electrical zap). Dab some grease or other food onto the wire surrounding your coop or chicken run so that a bear is sure to notice and attempt to smell and lick it. Once it realizes that its desired snack is protected in this way, it’s likely to lose interest and search elsewhere for food.
Clean up fallen fruit and nuts.
There’s not much you can do about fruit and nuts still hanging in your trees and shrubs, except to keep on top of harvesting when it’s ready. You can certainly keep the area under the tree clear of debris, however, and make it more challenging for a marauding bear to get a belly full. Rotting fruit especially will attract bears from miles around with its sickly sweet scent, so check your yard frequently and ensure you’re on top of dropped fruit and nuts. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and plant fruit bearing trees and shrubs as far away as possible from children’s play areas and the entrances to your home and garage. If you produce more than what your family can realistically consume, call on your neighbours for help; oftentimes people are searching for a local source of fruit and will be thrilled to cart some away.
Since bears will happily consume a meal of fresh, home grown veggies, your garden beds may attract a surprise visitor as well. You can surround your garden beds with electric wire, or if this isn’t feasible, keep on top of picking ripe veggies just as you would with your fruit trees. If you fertilize, make sure you’re not using blood or bone meal, as the smell of this will most certainly land you an unwelcome admirer of your green thumb.
There are specific seasons in which a bear will be more active, and luckily, this coincides with the time that birds have the most access to natural food and won’t need your help. A bear won’t think twice about digging in to your well stocked bird feeder, so it’s best to avoid hanging them until bears retreat to their sleeping quarters during late fall and winter. This is when birds benefit most from a feeder anyway. Ensure that your seed is stored in a secure area for the off season.
Your garbage container is the most delightful snack container that a bear will find on your property. Besides the fact that a weak garbage container is like a welcome sign to wildlife, there’s nothing pleasant about having your debris scattered all over your yard. A secure, bear proof garbage container is your ticket to not only preventing mess in the first place, but also to avoiding attracting bears into your yard. Once a bear realizes that it’s not going to be able to tear through your disposed treasures anymore, it will move on to better pastures. A bear proof garbage bin is one of the best ways you can prevent wildlife from encroaching on your property.
Facing a bear.
If you do wake up to a bear on the property, ensure that all of your windows and doors have been secured, and that all of your family members, including the 4 legged varieties, are safely inside. Do not attempt any confrontation or try to scare the bear away, as this may provoke aggressive behaviour, most especially when it comes to a sow and her cubs.
If you are surprised by a bear, don’t run or startle them with quick movements. It’s best to speak to the bear in a calm voice and back away slowly. Find protective shelter and remain there until the bear leaves the area. In any instance, call your neighbours to alert them to the bear’s presence and contact your local authorities.