Various bear management programs (whether they be for black or brown
bears in city, state or federal areas) are very similar with goals “to
restore and perpetuate the natural distribution, ecology, and behavior
of bears free of human influences to reduce bear-human conflicts.
is accomplished by (1) eliminating human food availability and human
activities that may influence bear populations, (2) minimizing
human-bear interactions that result in a learned orientation of bears
toward people, and (3) providing visitors the opportunity appreciate
bears in their natural environment (SEKI 1992). To achieve this goal,
the current bear programs emphasize proactive management techniques such
as bear-proof garbage and food storage
facilities, public education, law
enforcement and a detailed incident reporting system.
Remember, once a
bear discovers human food, it may become destructive or potentially
dangerous and reactive action may be needed. To address such imminent or
existing problems, techniques such as limiting human access to an area;
aversive conditioning; and capture, identification, and possible
destruction of nuisance bears may become necessary.
Proactive Techniques used to avoid bear-human conflicts include, but
are not limited to, reducing and eliminating the amount of garbage
available to bears. Having
bear-proof garbage facilities available and
used is a major factor in proactive techniques.
Campgrounds & Day Use Facilities:
Back Trail Hiking & Camping Facilities:
Refuse & Recycling Collection Areas:
Residential & Business Areas:
Law enforcement, public awareness and education also play important
roles where a proactive stance is being taken. Regulations to protect
bears such as those that prohibit feeding or poaching of wildlife and
those that require people to store food and garbage properly are major
factors in proactive bear management along with a system of reporting
bear observations and incidents. An event is considered a bear incident
if a bear causes property damage or threatens the safety or causes
injury to a person.
Reactive Techniques for bears that have learned to obtain human food
is a necessary element to bear management programs. These techniques
include, but are not limited to, aversive conditioning, capture and
marking, and toleration or destruction of individual nuisance bears.
Programs that use aversive conditioning could include any or all of the
Shouting at or throwing objects at nuisance bears
Use of chemicals that cause bears to retch and find human food
Using noise makers such as firecracker and air horns along with
being shot with rubber bullets and chased by barking dogs
Electric shock from trash receptacles hooked to a electrical
Various other methods that make the bears interaction with
humans an unpleasant event
Emphasis on working with people instead of bears works to control the
causes of human-bear problems, not the symptoms. Public education
efforts, providing bear-proof food storage and garbage facilities and
enforcing wildlife regulations allows management to work towards
perpetuating a natural bear population free from human influences.
Many believe that more energy should be put into implementing
preventive techniques that potentially protect many bears rather than
very time-consuming aversive conditioning of an individual bear.
The Tahoe Basin in California and Nevada; Vail and Aspen, Colorado;
Jackson, Wyoming; Whitefish, Montana; Sussex County, New Jersey; the
Adirondacks in New York; around Southeastern Tennessee and Southwestern
North Carolina and other areas throughout the contiguous United States..
.it’s where bear/human interaction have become a common, everyday
occurrence with the bear usually ending up on the losing end of these
confrontations. Is it because so many people who live, work or play in
bear country are uneducated as to the ways of the bear?
the responses that I have heard and read seem to be reactive to the
problem. Yet most bear/human conflicts are initiated by man. Not
intentionally mind you, but all the same most of the problems begin with
someone leaving food or trash out. . .making
it easily accessible to the bear.
The bear learns of this as an easy
source of food, he begins to associate humans to that source of food and
soon loses his instinctive fear of humans and becomes a nuisance. So,
who should be educated. . .bear or
Reactive stance ... “blame
stance ... “Let’s
There have been 45 fatal bear attacks in North
America since 1900. Source:
University of Calgary, Canada