How to keep bears away from your property

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a feature story by the Department of Natural Resources.

Seeing wild animals up close can be an exciting experience, however, having a 200 kilogram black bear near your kitchen door wanting a share of the Sunday roast can be a bit too close for comfort.

In Nova Scotia, several counties have a healthy population of black bears. They are omnivores. They will eat a wide variety of food. When a bear smells food odours coming from a compost bin, garbage container, or even a barbeque, it regards this as a convenient food source and will repeatedly return.

To avoid attracting bears:

— store green bins and garbage containers in a shed until the morning of pick up

— turn garden compost piles often and add lime to reduce odour

— freeze particularly smelly food waste, such as lobster shells and fish, until collection day and then put it out in your green bin

— avoid using bird feeders in bear season (April-October),

— burn off barbecue grills at high temperatures after every use and clean them often

— keep pet food bowls indoors

— pick fruit from trees as soon as it ripens

— keep your windows closed to keep kitchen cooking smells from wafting outside

If you spot a black bear on your property, or see signs that a bear is around, eliminate the items that may attract them. Talk to your neighbours about working together to eliminate bear attractants.

If you encounter a bear on your property:

— stay at a distance and move away

— make noise; if a bear knows that you are there it will usually move away on its own. Bears don’t see particularly well but their ears and noses make up for that

— do not block any escape routes for the bear

— remember to respect bears and treat them as if they may become aggressive. The bear is looking for food and not directly targeting you or your family, however, you should always be cautious around bears. There are no records of bear attacks on humans in Nova Scotia, but the potential exists

If you are unable to solve your bear problem, or if you encounter a bear that is aggressive, call your local Department of Natural Resources office or, after hours, call 1-800-565-2224. A department staff member will contact you to discuss options.

Occasionally a nuisance bear may have to be live trapped and removed, but there are few truly remote places where a bear can be relocated without it returning to the same area where it was captured or becoming a nuisance to someone else. Unfortunately, this means many of our nuisance bears must be euthanized. So, please, do your part and take measures to avoid creating a nuisance bear that is dependent on food associated with humans.

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