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Avoid Bear Conflicts: Store Food and Garbage Properly

As hunters venture into the woods this fall, Idaho Fish and Game is asking them to be mindful of their food and garbage.

The same cautions apply to homeowners in bear country. Most bear complaints happen in later summer and early fall when bears are traveling in search of food, packing on fat to make through the winter.

"Anyone who leaves food out is actually baiting in hungry bears," said Barry Cummings, Fish and Game conservation officer based in Deary. "Bears have a tremendous sense of smell, and once they get used to finding an easy food source, they'll keep coming back, and problems will occur."

Tips around camp:

  • Keep a clean camp. Pick up garbage and store it in a closed vehicle, bear- resistant container, or in a bag tied high between two trees. Store all food the same way. Coolers are not bear-resistant and never keep food in a tent.
  • Don't cook near tents or sleeping areas, and never wear clothes you cook in to bed.
  • Don't bury food scraps, pour out cooking grease, or leave anything that might be tasty on the ground or in the fire pit. Also, store barbecue grills or other smelly cooking gear inside your vehicle or within a sealed bear resistant container.
  • Make game meat unavailable by hanging it at least 10 feet high and 4 feet from the nearest tree.
  • If you see a bear, watch it from a distance and leave it alone. Black bears are not usually aggressive, but the danger may increase if a bear loses its fear of humans.

Tips around 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, as it can attract bears, raccoons and skunks.
  • Store horse and livestock grains inside closed barns.
  • Keep barbeque grills stored in closed buildings.

For more information about bears visit the grizzly bear page at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/?getPage=248.