Learn about living with bears; creating bear smart communities; recreating in bear country; bear safety at work; and managing bears (for wildlife officials).

Best Practices

Good, Better and Best Bear Smart Practices

As with everything worth doing, there are better and worse ways to get the job done. When it comes to keeping bears and people safe, however, it’s always best to take the high road. Check out how you can improve your Bear Smart IQ in whatever you do.

Attractant Management

Birdfeeders

GOOD BETTER BEST
Hang out of reach, clean below feeder. Not allowed during bear season. Not allowed at any time.

Fruit Trees, Berry Bushes

GOOD BETTER BEST
Remove fallen fruit from ground. Remove all fruit before it ripens. Remove all fruit trees and berry bushes in heavy-use human areas, particularly plants near entrance-ways, children’s play areas.

Gardens

GOOD BETTER BEST
Harvest vegetables as they ripen. In addition to good practices, avoid potatoes and root vegetables, such as carrots and beets, which are attractive to bears. Never use blood meal, fish fertilizer or deer repellent. Electric-fence gardens.

Compost

GOOD BETTER BEST
Keep compost clean and odour free by using lime and brown material, as well as turning often. In addition to good practices, never compost meat, fish, oil, grease or dairy products (incl. products made with milk such as bread). Locate compost well away from house, bear travel ways. Use electric-fenced community composting system or an indoor worm composter. Compost only yard waste outdoors (e.g. cut grass, leaves).

Pet food, livestock feed

GOOD BETTER BEST
Take pet dishes indoors at night. If food is stored outdoors, keep it in an airtight container. Supervise pets while being fed outdoors, take pet dishes in when done. Keep food in a bear-resistant container. Do not feed pets outdoors; do not leave dog bones lying around yard; keep pet/livestock food securely indoors or in bear-proof containers.

Pets

GOOD BETTER BEST
Keep pets in fenced yard (un-chained). In addition to good practices, take pets inside at night. Do not allow pets outdoors without supervision. Train dog’s) to deter bears, but not aggravate them.

Barbecues

GOOD BETTER BEST
Burn bbq clean after each use, clean grease can. In addition to good practices, cover bbq and store out of the wind. In addition to good practices, store bbq securely inside (without propane tank as it is fire risk).

Livestock

GOOD BETTER BEST
Take small livestock in at night. Locate calving grounds away from forested areas. Remove carcasses from property and bury in a remote spot at least 8-10 ft. deep or use a rendering service for disposal. In addition to good practices, use guardian animals to protect livestock (i.e. dogs). In addition to good practices, electric-fence livestock and use guardian animals for additional protection.

Beehives

GOOD BETTER BEST
Don’t place beehives in prime bear habitat, like a berry patch or riparian zone. Don’t set up in early spring, when other bear foods are not yet abundant. In addition to good practices, place beehives on platform with an overhang at least 3 m above ground. Wire beehives together with metal strapping. In addition to good practices, electric-fence beehives.

Property

GOOD BETTER BEST
Keep all accessible doors and windows closed and locked when not home. Do not store food of any kind outside, even if it is in a locked refrigerator or freezer. Don’t leave trash, groceries, animal feed, coolers or any odorous item in your vehicle or in the back of a pick-up truck, even under canopies. In addition to good practices, keep lawn mowed and weeded. Play radio when not home. In addition to better practices, keep all accessible windows closed and locked at all times, use passive deterrents¬†when leaving property unattended.

Education Program

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GOOD BETTER BEST
Distribute brochures. In addition to good practices, install signage, provide presentations (particularly at schools), write letters to editor, run free Public Service Announcements – newspaper, radio and cable TV In addition to better practices, initiate a door-to-door campaign, provide info. on website, run an ad campaign, provide displays at local museum, local events etc., provide interactive learning opportunities, spread your message through mediums that have a secondary use i.e. book marks, playing cards & games, placemats, magnets, calendars etc.

Waste Management

Type of Collection System

GOOD BETTER BEST
Curbside Pickup: Garbage stored indoors until day of pick up, or in bear-resistant containers outdoors – place curbside only on morning of pick-up. Main bear-proof compactor sites for general use placed strategically at points in community by which residents regularly travel. 100% bear-proof receptacles placed throughout community – one for every 30 homes + bear-proof receptacles for commercial use (incl. garbage, recycling & grease).

Type of Disposal System

GOOD BETTER BEST
Landfill – food waste cell electric-fenced. Landfill – all cells electric-fenced, including construction waste, recycling materials – buried skirt 1 meter wide under fence to prevent digging. Electric-fenced Transfer Station or Incinerator – all refuse, construction waste, recycling materials inside electric fence – 1 meter wide skirt buried under fence to prevent digging.

Enforcement Strategy

Municipal Bylaws or Ordinances

GOOD BETTER BEST
Bylaw prohibits placing garbage curbside before a certain hour on day of pick-up. Garbage must be stored securely indoors until it is disposed of. In addition to good practices, bylaws should state: (1) fallen fruit must be removed daily before nightfall; (2) outdoor fridges/freezers must be inaccessible to wildlife; (3) birdfeeders prohibited during bear season; (4) restaurant cooking grease must be stored in a bear-proof manner or secure facility. Bylaws should clearly state that: (1) outdoor waste receptacles must be bear-proof; (2) garbage (incl. restaurant grease, construction waste), compost and recycling must be stored securely and inaccessible to bears until it can be deposited in a bear-proof waste system; (3) provide specifications for bear-proof waste containers; (4) birdfeeders, fruit producing landscaping and compost are not allowed; and (5) add restrictions on dirty bbq’s, pets & pet food, animal carcasses, outdoor fridges/freezers, beehives, orchards, and livestock. Intentionally feeding and harassment of wildlife prohibited. Significant fines established on an increasing scale.

Provincial or State Legislation

GOOD BETTER BEST
Prohibits intentionally feeding or harassing wildlife. Low fines. In addition to good practices, prohibits attracting wildlife under some circumstances. Low fine with heavier fine for subsequent violation. In addition to good practices, prohibits attracting wildlife under any circumstances. Immediate high escalating fines. Court prosecution leading to higher fines or jail time.

Green Space Management Program

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GOOD BETTER BEST
All construction including residential/commercial development, parks, campgrounds, road and trail designs need to take into account infringement on bear habitat and should avoid high quality areas as much as possible. In addition to good practices, remove all artificially landscaped berry & fruit producing shrubs in children’s play areas, busy pedestrian ways, entrance-ways of public places and no-go bear zones. Encourage businesses and residents to do the same. In addition to better practices, thin or remove heavy cover from areas surrounding school yards/playgrounds, parks, greenbelts, etc. Fence school yards and playgrounds adjacent to forested areas of bear habitat.

Community Planning

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GOOD BETTER BEST
Encourage communication between various stakeholder groups involved in community planning to ensure plans are made with bears and bear habitat in mind. In addition to good practices, map bear habitat including food sources, travel corridors and denning sites – overlay with existing and proposed human developments sites (grading the intensity of use) to determine high conflict areas. In addition to better practices, ensure all community planning documents take bear smart principles into account. Identify important highway and railway bear/wildlife crossing sites – work to reduce bear-vehicle accidents and mortalities at these sites e.g. signage, wildlife over/under passes, reduction in speed limits.

Bear Management

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GOOD BETTER BEST
Implement hazing program to deter bears from high-use human areas non-lethally. In addition to good practices, apply aversive conditioning techniques to the most valuable animals in the population (e.g. threatened species, reproductive-aged females, ‘alpha’ males) that are involved in conflict situations. Implement full aversive conditioning program where bears are radio-collared and monitored 24-7 and are treated with human dominance techniques, combined with noise and physical deterrents whenever their behaviour is considered undesirable or inappropriate. Ensure sufficient funding for project term before beginning (i.e. manpower, equipment).

Monitoring

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GOOD BETTER BEST
Establish a cooperative program within the community that uses volunteers, city employees and waste management personnel to monitor potential conflict areas identified in the bear management plan and document and report locations where human foods and other attractants are available to bears. Follow up to ensure compliance with Bear Management Plan. Establish a telephone hotline (reporting to wildlife agency) for community residents to report bear sightings and potential conflict situations, such as improperly stored trash receptacles, unattended fruit-bearing trees, etc. Ear-tag all bears involved in nuisance situations. Establish a systematic reporting system that is easily maintained (GIS) to document patterns of bear conflicts in the community, and the identity and history of bears involved in conflict situations. In addition to good and better practices, hire a professional biologist to monitor compliance with Bear Smart principles within the community and to carryout other monitoring activities as needed.

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