“With a warm spring so far, we’re already getting calls about bears out rummaging for food,” said Eric Nelson, wildlife animal damage program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “However, leaving food out in yards that can be eaten by bears sets the stage for potential property damage and presents dangers to bears.”
As bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage.
Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota. They normally are shy and usually flee when encountered. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.
The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.
The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts:
Around the yard
- Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
- Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
- Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
- Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up seeds that spill onto the ground. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.
- Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
- Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
- Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.
- Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.
- Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
- Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
- Elevate bee hives on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
- Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).
- Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
- Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
- Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside.
- Store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.
For more information about avoiding bear conflicts, visit www.mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife/bears.