Living in Harmony: A Guide to Helping Neighborhood Bears

| Modified on Jan 23, 2018
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Bears are remarkable creatures that have captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. These powerful and intelligent animals play a critical role in maintaining balanced ecosystems, contributing to forest health and diversity. However, as human populations continue to expand and encroach upon bear habitats, the need for coexistence becomes increasingly important. To protect these magnificent animals and ensure their survival, we must learn how to live alongside them responsibly and compassionately.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide valuable information and creative solutions for helping bears in your neighborhood, fostering a harmonious relationship between humans and our furry friends.

Understanding Bear Diets

To help bears in your neighborhood, it's crucial to understand their diet, consisting of plants and animals. For example, a black bear's diet typically comprises 80% plants, 15% insects, and 5% animal matter. Bears are opportunistic feeders and will consume a wide variety of items, such as wasps, bees, termites, ants, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, cicadas, ticks, and centipedes. They also eat various plants' fruits, seeds, shoots, stems, and leaves.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell, detecting food up to a mile away. Odors that attract bears to neighborhoods include garbage, bee yards, pet food, barbeque grills, and bird feeders. Bears that consistently find food in residential areas can grow abnormally large, leading to injuries as they navigate fences and other backyard obstacles.

How to Help Bears In Your Area

While it may seem kind to feed bears in your neighborhood, doing so poses significant risks to animals and people. To promote harmonious coexistence, follow these rules:

  1. Rinse off all food and beverage containers before disposing of them in the trash.
  2. Store garbage in bear-resistant containers or keep it securely locked up until trash pickup day.
  3. Remove bird feeders or place them high enough that bears cannot reach them.
  4. Clean barbeque grills and store them securely after use.
  5. Store pet food indoors and do not leave it outside overnight.
  6. Enclose compost piles or use bear-resistant compost bins.
  7. For enhanced safety, ensure that old wooden fencing in your yard is free of exposed rusty nails if you notice bears frequenting the area.

How Your Community Can Help

  1. In addition to the measures previously mentioned, here are some more creative ways to help bears in your area:
  2. Wildlife corridors: Advocate for creating wildlife corridors that connect different habitats, allowing bears to safely move between areas without coming into contact with humans. These corridors could be constructed using tunnels or overpasses above or below roads and highways.
  3. Bear-proof structures: Encourage the development of bear-resistant structures in your community, such as bear-proof trash receptacles, bear-proof fencing around gardens, and electric fencing around bee yards.
  4.  Bear education programs: Partner with local schools and organizations to implement educational programs that teach children and adults about bear biology, behavior, and the importance of coexisting with bears. Interactive workshops and field trips can help foster a sense of appreciation and respect for these animals.
  5. Bear ambassadors: Establish a network of local bear ambassadors who can serve as liaisons between the community and wildlife authorities. These individuals can help report bear sightings, share information about bear-safe practices, and assist with public education efforts.
  6. Art and cultural initiatives: Promote bear conservation through art and cultural initiatives, such as hosting bear-themed art exhibitions, film festivals, or community events. These activities can raise awareness about the importance of bear conservation and inspire people to take action to help bears in their area.
  7. Technology solutions: Develop and implement innovative technology solutions to minimize bear-human conflicts, such as using wildlife cameras to monitor bear activity or deploying bear deterrent systems (e.g., noisemakers, lights, or scent repellents).
  8. Citizen science: Encourage community members to participate in citizen science projects that help monitor and protect bear populations. For example, residents could document bear sightings or track local bear activity using GPS-enabled devices.
  9. Local legislation: Lobby for the implementation of local ordinances and regulations that support bear conservation, such as restrictions on development in crucial bear habitats or requirements for bear-resistant trash containers in neighborhoods adjacent to bear habitats.
  10. Fundraising and donations: Organize fundraising events and campaigns to support bear conservation initiatives, such as habitat restoration projects, educational programs, or research studies. Encourage community members to donate to reputable organizations focusing on bear conservation and habitat preservation.
  11. Bear-friendly tourism: Promote eco-tourism and bear-friendly recreational activities that allow people to appreciate bears from a safe distance. This could include guided bear-watching tours or wildlife photography workshops.


Helping bears in your neighborhood is an essential step in promoting coexistence and ensuring the well-being of these incredible animals. By understanding their diets, removing attractants, and working with your community to create and maintain suitable habitats, you can make a positive difference in the lives of bears and the safety of your neighborhood.