“Coexisting with black bears often means keeping them from getting food and garbage from around your home, business, and farms.”
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Scroll down this page to explore these solutions
- Bear-Resistant Containers
- Instructions for do-it-yourself projects
- Bear-Resistant Barriers
- Electric fences
- Trash can enclosures
- Unwelcome mats
- Bear-Resistant Animal Feeders
- Bird Feeders
- Deer Feeders
It is possible to deter black bears
PURCHASE BEAR-RESISTANT CONTAINERS
Although regular trash cans and dumpsters may look sturdy, special reinforcement is necessary to withstand a determined black bear (see What Makes A Dumpster Bear-Resistant? for a description of bear-resistant dumpsters). The up-front cost is worth it when considering replacement of ruined garbage containers and time spent picking up scattered trash. Your action on behalf of bears will make a difference for bears and your community.
If your waste service provider does not offer bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters, you can purchase these items. Before purchasing a bear-resistant container, be sure to check with your waste service provider to make sure they will service it.
To purchase bear-resistant containers, consult the following sources:
DO-IT-YOURSELF BEAR-RESISTANT CONTAINERS
Some containers can be made black bear-resistant with materials purchased from local hardware stores. These flyers offer several do-it-yourself methods.
- Trashcans: Modify your trashcan to resist black bears
- Dumpsters: How to modify a dumpster to make it more bear-resistant
Contact your local fish and game officer for other recommendations.
INSTALL ELECTRIC FENCING
The guide Use of Electric Fencing to Deter Black Bears offers a fence design that has proven effective for keeping bears out of many situations.
- Standard chicken and rabbit coop designs aren’t strong enough to keep out a determined bear. Electric fencing works best to keep out bears and prevent structural damage to chicken coops. Electric fencing for an average-sized chicken coop should run between $150 – $400.
- For larger livestock in small pastures or yards, secure them in a sturdy pen or pasture with electric fencing. If you expect your animals are pregnant, keep them in a bear-resistant building or within an electric fence until the young animals can fend for themselves.
- Electric fences around crops and orchards can prevent damage.
The “How to Use Electric Fencing to Secure Your Outdoor Attractants” is a how-to video for building an electric fence around beehives, trashcans, deer feeders, crops, livestock, bird feeders, and other items that may attract black bears or other unwanted wildlife.
TIE DOWN YOUR BEE HIVES
The tie-down method of securing bee hives has been highly successful in remote areas and in neighborhoods with high black bear traffic. Download the “Tied-Down Bee Hives” do-it-yourself flyer for more information.
TRASH CAN ENCLOSURES
Trash can enclosures (also called “caddies”) are strong metal or wooden sheds that secure your trash cans from wildlife and can hold your garbage until it is ready for pickup.
Unwelcome mats are sheets of plywood with sharp nails or screw points sticking through that make it impossible for a bear to stand or walk. The purpose is to keep a bear from standing in front of a door or window and using its weight and dexterity to break through into a building. The mat must be wide enough to keep a bear from leaning from one edge and reaching a door knob, hasp or a window latch. Download “How to build an unwelcome mat” for more information.
Watch this bear, caught on a nighttime security camera, as he tries to get into a door that is protected by an unwelcome mat. He eventually gives up! This bear had discovered a lunch break room, and learned to pull open the door, enter and feast. The mat worked, and the bear did not return.(Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)
Bear-Resistant Animal Feeders
BEAR-RESISTANT BIRD FEEDER
- Place the feeder out of reach for a bear—at least ten feet off the ground and ten feet from anything bears can climb, which includes deck posts
and exterior stairs.
- Don’t use a simple rope pulley to bring your feeder up and down for filling — bears are smart enough to figure out how it works. Use a clip-style latch bears can’t open. If your feeder is hung on a cable between two trees, affix a plastic shower rod cover over the wire so that the bear cannot grab hold.
- Keep the area under the feeder clear of hulls and debris. Switching to a shelled or pre-hulled bird seed, often sold as Porch and Patio mix, makes that a lot easier.
An alternative to designing and installing your own system is to install the Birds Only bird feeder system, available for purchase through the Wisconsin Black Bear Education Center.
BEAR-RESISTANT DEER FEEDERS
In states where deer feeding is legal, rich deer feed attracts many forms of wildlife, including bears. For field-tested, bear-resistant wildlife feeder designs download the following PDFs:
Other Bear Deterrents
To keep livestock safe from bears, consider adding guard animals as part of your overall risk management strategy. A dog, donkey, or llama may protect livestock in large pastures from bears, coyotes and other potential predators.
Guard animals are most effective as deterrents, not as attackers of bears. Livestock guardian dogs only need to be formidable enough for black bears to leave your property to find an easier meal.
What kind of dog? If you’re interested in purchasing livestock guard dogs, certain breeds may be better for preventing bear predation. Please research breeds and suitability before committing to a guard animal.
- Download a fact sheet from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Livestock Protection Dogs.
- Interested in digging deeper? Take a look at the APHIS report: Innovative Solutions to Human-Wildlife Conflicts National Wildlife Research Center: Accomplishments, 2016.” The report includes reviews of recent research about guard animals and livestock predators.
- The video “Livestock Guardian Dogs: Working on Common Ground” tells a success story about how one rancher uses guard dogs to protect his sheep.
Word of caution: Just as a house alarm can’t guarantee there won’t be break-ins, a livestock guard animals can’t guarantee there won’t be animal losses. No one deterrent, including livestock guardian dogs, is 100% effective. To lower risk of livestock predation, apply several methods in combination with a guard animal. Examples include electric fencing, carcass removal and penning during birthing season.
Scare devices can frighten wary bears from livestock corrals, and orchards. Those devices include night lights, strobe lights, loud music, pyrotechnics, exploder canons, and scarecrows. However, the positions should be changed frequently or bears will overcome their fear and ignore them to get their desired food.
“Innovative Solutions to Human-Wildlife Conflicts National Wildlife Research Center: Accomplishments, 2016” also offers reviews of recent research about scare devices and livestock predators