When most Georgia homeowners fuss about the problems caused by wild animals making a nuisance around their home they are typically referring to the likes of white-tailed deer, opossums, raccoons, and eastern chipmunks. However, some of us also have to contend with an animal that takes being a nuisance to a new level. The animal I am talking about is the black bear.
Some 4,100 black bears live in the Peach State. Most of these large animals never have a conflict with humans. However, as the state’s black bear population grows, and humans continue to convert bear habitat into residential areas, it is highly likely that human-bear encounters will increase. However, when a bear destroys a valuable bird feeder, explores a front porch, or scatters trash across a yard people often become frightened and are left wondering what can be done to ensure such events will cease.
According to Adam Hammond, Georgia’s state bear biologist, “Avoiding problems with bears is usually simple, though it may not always be convenient.”
In an effort to assist homeowners deal with bear problems, the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and 14 other state wildlife agencies have developed an educational program named BearWise. Below you will find six BearWise recommendations that will help you safely deal with bears in your yard.
- Never feed or approach a bear.
- Secure food, garbage, and recycling. Since bears are attracted to food odors, don’t store garbage or other food-related items outside.
- Remove bird feeders when bears are active in your area.
- Never leave pet food outdoors.
- Thoroughly clean outdoor grills after they have been used. In addition, store grills insecure locations.
- If you happen to see a bear close by, notify your neighbors. If you and your neighbors take preventative measures, bears will not be able to find food and will look elsewhere for a free meal.
One the other hand, if you and your neighbors do not take preventative measures to discourage bears, chances are bear problems will become more frequent. This, in turn, can lead to increased property damage and potentially dangerous encounters between humans, pets, and bears.
More detailed information can be obtained by visiting www.bearwise.org