Dealing with Nuisance Bears

Brown Bear RS

If left alone, most bears that have wandered into a residential area will quickly retreat to their natural habitat. Humans should not approach or follow bears, or put themselves between a bear and its possible escape route.“A bear passing through a neighborhood can cause a lot of excitement,” said Ann May, program coordinator for the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education. “But people should give bears plenty of room to allow it to move out of the area freely. Crowding around a bear can lead to a dangerous situation.”

The Commission advises people to not feed bears, whether intentionally or inadvertently. Bears accustomed to feeding on pet food, table scraps, garbage and birdseed can lose their fear of humans, which could result in property damage. To avoid problem interactions with bears: Use garbage cans or trash containers with a secure latching system; Keep trash indoors as late as possible on pick-up days — don’t put trash curbside the night before; Take down birdfeeders, even those advertised as “bear-proof.”; If you feed pets outside, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are promptly removed. “It’s also a good idea to clean food and grease from barbecue grills after each use,” May said. “Bears are attracted to food odors, so you don’t want to dispose of grease or cooking oil nearby. Be careful with food and food odors in vehicles, as well.”

The Wildlife Commission rarely traps and relocates bears. Relocation can be dangerous to personnel and the bear, and relocated bears often return to where they were originally captured. I don’t know the most recent figure, but the WRC was averaging over 300 nuisance bear complaints a season a couple of years ago. Don’t expect them to respond if you have a bear cruising through your yard. We also don’t recommend shooting bears. There can be a hefty fine for doing so unless you are physically threatened (which is rare). We recommend, and sell, bear spray that shoots a stream of capsaicin about 30 feet and is primarily designed for western grizzly bears but it works as well on black bears. Just be aware of your surroundings when are outdoors and give bears their space and we should all be OK.

Speaking of bears, the WRC held its public hearing this week for the temporary black bear hunting rules. Due to submission requirements it was after this was sent in. Report next week on results. If you missed the hearing, you can comment online at the Commission’s website, At the bottom of the home page, look for the “Submit Comments on 2016-2017 Temporary Bear Rules” banner that scrolls across. You can also comment via email to

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Senate Bill 2690 which would modify Pittman-Robertson Bill modifications to spend more money on new hunter recruitment. The House has now introduced its own version of the bill. Specifically, the bill would expand the Multistate Conservation Grant program by providing an additional $5 million annually, from archery tax collections, for hunter and recreational shooter recruitment and promotion. It also clarifies that traditional wildlife conservation remains the primary focus of the Pittman-Robertson fund. I am glad to see they added language to continue wildlife conservation as the primary focus. As stated before, my primary concern is that P-Rs success is because the excise tax funds are fenced to only allow money to be used for certain hunting activities. We will wait to see if these bills make it through the legislative process. Still no word on the SHARE Act which is designed to affirm and increase hunting and fishing opportunities on federal land.

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