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Keep Backyards Bear Resistant


Thu Jun 26 14:40:00 MDT 2014

Bear activity is picking up in many Montana neighborhoods, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking residents to keep bear attractants contained.

Bears are often drawn to populated areas by unsecured garbage cans, the smell of pet food, bird feeders and dirty barbecue grills.

"When bears encounter easy neighborhood food sources, they often have a hard time returning to natural food," said Ron Aasheim, FWP spokesman in Helena. "The only solution is to keep bears from becoming interested in your backyard. A conditioned bear will travel miles to get back to a garbage can."

Aasheim suggests that the following small precautions can go a surprisingly long way to deter bears from visiting one's backyard:

  • keep pet food inside,
  • clean dirty barbeque grills,
  • take down bird feeders,
  • make sure the compost pile is not laden with food scraps,
  • keep garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or in a secure building until trash collection.

Experience shows that bear conflicts decrease as more residents learn what attracts bears and how to keep these things out of a bear's reach.

To learn more about bear proofing backyards and neighborhoods, and what systems, such as bear-resistant garbage cans or electric fence kits, may be needed to keep attractants off-limits, visit or call the nearest regional FWP office. Or, go to the FWP website's Be Bear Aware page at