Most conflicts between bears and humans are related to the animals’ search for food. Nuisance activities are usually more common in years when there is a shortage of natural foods. An amazingly acute sense of smell enables the bear to find sources of nourishment, and unfortunately this can be beehives, garbage, or pet foods. Damage to crops such as corn, wheat, oats, watermelon, and sugarcane has also been reported. When compared to other types of agricultural losses, however, those caused by black bears are relatively small although can be locally severe. Other issues reported to wildlife agencies include bears eating corn and other grains from feeders used by hunters to attract deer and scavenging animals caught in traps set by commercial trappers.
Although generally shy creatures, bears are very intelligent and possess excellent learning and long term memory capabilities. Bears will continue to return to areas where they have found food in the past. Bears lose their instinctive fear of humans quite easily when food conditioned and can become nuisances as a result. Problems vary from the simple presence of a bear, perceived as dangerous, to actual property damage or possible safety threats.
The Coalition works to provide the public with factual information about bears so that conflicts may be avoided or acceptably resolved.
Landowners, agricultural producers and other wildlife resource users educated about bears can minimize bear-caused damage through preventative methods. Once educated about bears, most people readily accept their presence and are willing to modify certain behaviors to avoid conflict.
In most conflict situations, no single control technique will solve all nuisance bear problems. However, certain measures that are initiated in a timely manner, maintained properly, and applied with an understanding of bear behavior, can greatly reduce any problems associated with bears.
The best way to avoid trouble with bears is to prevent the issues from arising in the first place.
Bears are incredibly smart, agile, and resourceful. It’s up to humans to keep bears wild and out of trouble. Learn how you can become Bear Smart! by selecting a topic below.