Preventing Nuisance Bear Problems
There’s a rogue bear on the loose, being a pain in the backside, and scaring people. It’s probably a yearling that’s been through family separation and doesn’t quite know what to do with itself yet. Sows drive their yearlings away, sometimes violently, to prevent them from being killed by boars during mating season. If the youngsters haven’t mastered finding food they can become problems. Others can find food just fine but take advantage of easy opportunities. Gilman’s chickens looked pretty good and Betty’s dumpster was pillaged.
Maine has the highest black bear population in the lower 48 states, and the population in Maine is higher than biologists determined it should be. A short, easy winter means few bears died in their dens, and I thought it would mean they have enough food to not be jerks this year, but a few of them didn’t get that memo. They’re out and about and some are becoming nuisance bears. Preventing nuisance bear problems is easier than dealing with them after it’s too late, though sometimes we don’t know there’s a problem bear around until they make their presence known.
Thanks to Betty Phelps for the photo. She didn’t know she had a bear problem until she woke up to this mess.
Tips to Slow Down Nuisance Bears
- Don’t put your trash outside. Secure it in a sturdy outbuilding or your basement, or take it away. Lock the dumpster. The doors not heavy enough to keep bears out. These big, silent creatures are strong.
- Bring your grill in or at least clean it after every use. Burn off the food and bring in the grease cup, then give it a good cleaning.
- Never leave food outside. Make sure everyone bring in their snacks and drinks.
- Bring in your bird feeders from early spring until early to mid-November, and clean up the ground under the feeders.
- Bring pet food and water bowls in as soon as the pet finishes eating.
- Contain your livestock and poultry. Lock them up like the Jack Link’s Squatch is going to forget about jerky and munch on your critters. Lock them in before sunset. The bear that was hit by a pickup on Monday was hit before 5:30 pm.
- Don’t leave any livestock and poultry food where a bear can get to it or be attracted by the smell. We keep food in 50 gallon drums that are tightly sealed and never have a problem.
- Use the panic button on your vehicle’s key fob before you go outside to scare away any bears that might be in the yard. If you get up during the night for a drink, hit it again, for a second or two. This is best done if you don’t have neighbors too close.
- When your dog barks at something you can’t see, let it bark. Bears are known as the “black ghost” because they move silently through the woods. The dog is likely to know a bear is nearby while you have no idea.
Bears and Dogs
- Keep dogs and bears apart. Ava and Zoey are not afraid of bears. Instinct and experience don’t tell them to be careful enough, and their personalities tell them “oh look, a friend!” They don’t warm up to other dogs easily (they’re shy) but bears are a different story.
Preventing nuisance bear problems takes work. You have to stay on top of it and remind everyone in the household to do so, too.