With spring temperatures continuing to increase and natural food sources for bears becoming harder to find, human interactions with bear will be on the rise. With thousands of campers spending time in the outdoors, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game cautions people to be careful with their food and garbage. The same cautions apply to homeowners in bear country. Right now, black bears are traveling great distances while switching from spring to summer foods and when berries and other natural foods are scarce, human food becomes appealing. Homeowners can avoid most conflicts with bears by practicing the following:
- Keep garbage in bear-proof, latchable containers. Keep garbage in a closed building until the morning the garbage will be picked up.
- Empty and remove bird feeders during the summer months. Songbirds are able to forage on food provided by nature. Bears find the bird feeder as an easy food source.
- Clean up fruit that has fallen from fruit trees in your yard. In addition to bear, rotting fruit will attract raccoons and skunks.
- Feed pets inside or during daylight hours; do not leave pet food or food scraps outside of your home or camp. Table scraps and pet foods make a great attractant for bears.
- Store horse and livestock grains inside closed barns.
- Composting in bear country is not advised. Decomposing organic materials will attract bears.
- Keep barbeque grills stored in closed building.
Tips for around camp:
- Keep a clean camp. Pick up garbage and store it in a closed vehicle or in a plastic bag tied high in a tree. Store all food in a bear-resistant container, camper or vehicle. Never keep food in your tent.
- Do not bury food scraps, pour-out cooking grease, or leave anything that might be tasty on the ground or in the fire pit. Also, store barbecue grills or other smelly cooking gear inside your vehicle or within a sealed container. Bears have a tremendous sense of smell and they will come looking for an easy meal.
- If you see a bear, watch it from a distance and leave it alone. Black bears are not usually aggressive, but the danger may increase if a bear loses its fear of humans.
Most bear complaints happen in the summer months when bears are traveling in search of food. Black bears will eat almost anything. People living and playing in bear country are reminded to be bear aware.