F&G staff and volunteers pick apples in Eastern Idaho to avoid attracting bears

Apple Picking
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Andrew Sorensen Idaho Fish and Game

Conservation officers and biologists from Idaho Fish and Game teamed up with a group of hard working volunteers recently to pick and gather apples around the city of Ashton in an effort to prevent the juicy fruits from attracting bears into backyards.  Fish and Game regularly responds to bears wandering into neighborhoods this time of year as they search for fruit trees and other easy meals to provide them with quick calories in preparation for winter. 

Apple Picking
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Andrew Sorensen Idaho Fish and Game

"An apple tree can be quite the find for a hungry bear, but it comes at a price," says wildlife biologist Jeremy Nicholson. "Bears that become accustomed to spending time near humans and eating human food are commonly removed from the population because of the danger they pose to the public." This will be the second year that Fish and Game has removed apples on a large scale in areas with frequent bear activity and so far it is working. Less conflicts are occurring in cleaned up areas and bears are mostly remaining in the forest away from humans. 

Here are some tips on how you can store attractants while living in bear country to keep you and your neighbors safe. 

  • Keep garbage in bear-resistant containers or in a closed building.
  • Empty and remove bird feeders during the summer months when songbirds are able to forage on food provided by nature.
  • Clean up fruit that has fallen in your yard. Rotting fruit will attract bears as well as raccoons and skunks.
  • Feed pets inside or during daylight hours; don't leave pet food or food scraps outside of your home or camp.
  • Store horse and livestock grains inside closed barns.
  • Keep barbeque grills stored in closed buildings.

"I would like to thank all the volunteers that helped out and the homeowners who allowed us to collect apples on their property," says Nicholson. "We were able to remove truck load after truck load and put them to a good use." The apples that were in the best shape went to the Ashton Senior Citizen Center and the others have been donated to the animals at Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, and the Idaho Falls Zoo.

Discovery Center Bear eating apples
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Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Discovery Center Bear eating apples
Creative Commons Licence
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Discovery Center Bear eating apples