There’s really no question: People should NOT feed bears.
“Nothing good ever happens when people with food invite bears to approach their houses.” – Ben Kilham in Among the Bears
The irresistible connection between Man and nature can sometimes lead to people attempting to befriend wild animals. But in the careful balance of coexistence, human contact, and particularly feeding, can lead to brash and bold bear behaviour. Bears learn to take liberties that most wild animals never would, engaging openly with people and often crossing a dangerous line. Close contact with bears all too often leads to trouble.
Bears that are intentionally or unintentionally fed by people become accustomed to being around people and are more likely to cause property damage or inadvertently injure a person. Unfortunately, bears that are fed and come into frequent contact with people are often destroyed, not for what they have done, but for what people are afraid they might do.
“Some people love their bears to death.” – Bryan Peterson, Durango Bear Smart as quoted in Living with Bears, by Linda Masterson
It is not possible for a community to coexist with bears unless BOTH people and bears respect each other’s boundaries. Baiting bears with a food reward teaches bears to cross the boundary of acceptable behaviour and increases the potential for conflict situations. It changes the bear’s attitude and alters its position in the hierarchy of the community.
Bears that become comfortable near people and built-up areas are also more likely to be involved in a vehicle accident, possibly causing injury or death to both the people in the vehicle and the bear.
Communities can be porous to bear activity, allowing bears to pass through but avoid human-bear conflict situations. But it takes a concerted effort by everyone to keep garbage and other bear attractants away from bears.
Bears and People can Live in Harmony. It’s up to YOU!