That time of year: Don’t sleep on bears coming out of hibernation
As bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. As a result, anyone living near bear habitat is reminded to be aware of bears this spring and to check property for food sources that could attract bears.
“Leaving food out in yards that can be eaten by bears can lead to property damage and presents dangers to bears,” said Eric Nelson, wildlife animal damage program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Pet food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage can attract bears.”
Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota. They usually are shy and flee when encountered. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.
The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.
The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts.
Around the yard
- Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
- Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
- Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
- Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up spilled seeds. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.
- Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
- Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
- Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.
- Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.
- Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
- Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
- Elevate bee hives on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
- Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).
- Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
- Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
- Properly rinse all recyclable containers with hot water to remove all remaining product.
- Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside.
- Store garbage that can become smelly, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site or picked up by refuse collector.
- Take especially smelly or rotting garbage as soon as possible to your local refuse facility so it can be buried.
Always be cautious around bears. If you have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html.
For more information, visit mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife/bears.