Idaho Fish and Game recently teamed up with a group of hard working volunteers to pick and gather apples from cooperating landowners around the city of Ashton. This is the third year in a row that an effort has been made to remove fallen apples as an attractant for bears and hopefully prevent them from wandering into backyards and neighborhoods in search of the tasty treat. 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 as they prepare for winter.
"Apples can be pretty irresistible for a hungry bear," says wildlife biologist Jeremy Nicholson. "Once they find a food source they become pretty protective of it, which unfortunately puts both humans and bears safety at risk." Bears that become accustomed to spending time in close proximity to humans and eating human food are commonly removed from the population because of the danger they pose to the public.
Fish and Game has focused their apple picking efforts in areas around Ashton where bears frequently came into town to eat apples from yards. "It really seems to be working and that makes it worthwhile," says Nicholson. "We have responded to less conflict situations involving bears in those areas where the apple clean-up has occurred."
Do your part to keep humans and bears safe by following these simple tips and removing attractants from around your home.
- 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. Four full truck loads of apples were collected during the clean-up. Usable apples were donated to the Ashton and St. Anthony Senior Citizen Centers and the others have been donated to the animals at Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.