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Bear Safe Solutions & Management

Bear Management


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.


This 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.


What do you think? Comments Here!

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 following:


Shouting at or throwing objects at nuisance bears


Use of chemicals that cause bears to retch and find human food distasteful


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 charger


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.

Overall Thoughts

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?


Many of 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 man?


Reactive stance ... “blame the bear!!“.


Proactive stance ... “Let’s educate!!


There have been 45 fatal bear attacks in North America since 1900. Source: University of Calgary, Canada




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