Minnesota DNR: Be ‘bearwise’ this summer
Emily Hutchins, Minnesota DNR area wildlife manager in Erskine, says that with summer approaching, people need to be especially aware of bears. She calls it “bearwise,” as in people need to be bearwise.
“Homeowners and vacationers can make simple changes to deter bears,” Hutchins said in an email. “As in the old adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ for reducing black bear conflicts.
This time of year, she explains, female bears have kicked out their yearlings in preparation to breed again, which means that there are a number of young bears roaming the landscape for the first time on their own. They are much more likely to take the “easy” route and find unsecured attractant, Hutchins says, like grills, trash bins, dumpsters, coolers, bird feeders, pet food, livestock/poultry feed, free-range poultry, beehives, and other odiferous items like sunscreen bottles, car air fresheners, gum, and candy left in vehicles.
“Furthermore, we are coming off of a historically bad natural food year, so bears are generally below normal body condition and are hungry,” she says. “A bear that scores an easy meal on unsecured human attractants is rewarded for taking a risk. The bear learns people are a source of food. Each time it is rewarded, it becomes less fearful of people, often to the bear’s demise. The best approach is prevention – secure attractants so they are inaccessible to bears. Never feed bears.”
In preparation for the upcoming summer months, Hutchins has provided several “Bearwise” links for those wanting to learn more: