BearWise Press Room

About BearWise

BearWise® is an education and outreach program founded, supported and funded by member state wildlife agencies. Today BearWise is a national program of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA).

BearWise is managed by a national team of state agency bear biologists and communications professionals from the private sector, working together to ensure that no matter where people live, play or travel, they get the same consistent, science-based information about living responsibly with black bears.

BearWise states as of May 2024

BearWise Mission

BearWise is dedicated to helping people live responsibly with black bears. Being BearWise helps keep people, pets, animals and property safe and bears wild.

BearWise provides consistent, science-based information, proven methods of preventing conflicts and resources and materials everyone can use.

BearWise®  Created by bear biologists. Supported by State Wildlife Agencies. Dedicated to helping people live responsibly with black bears.

BearWise Articles to Share / Reprint

The BearWise article bank features dozens of articles meant to be shared. Our primary focus is on easy-to-understand, proven ways to prevent conflicts with black bears at home and outdoors and help keep people safe and bears wild. Our regular features on black bear behavior and biology and a popular monthly “Bear Calendar” help people understand what drives bear behavior.

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When sharing/reprinting BearWise articles: BearWise content is copyrighted. You may reprint, redistribute or excerpt without changing or altering content in any way. Required credit line: Courtesy of BearWise®  |

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Using BearWise Photos/Videos: Many photographers have granted BearWise the right to use their photos because they support the BearWise mission. For permission to use a BearWise photo, please contact

Using the BearWise Name / Logo

The BearWise® name and logos are registered trademarks and may not be used on educational, promotional or commercial materials or products without prior written approval from BearWise.

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BearWise AFWA logo

The BearWise® name and logos are registered trademarks of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.

BearWise in the News

June 12, 2024  |  Steamboat Pilot & Today

“Human Encouraged to Consistently Scare Away Bears” by Suzie Romig

May/June 2024  |  The Wildlife Professional

Learning to Live with Bears by Colleen Olfenbuttel, Garret Heath and Ashley Hobbs

(copyright The Wildlife Society)

Spring 2024  |  Smokies Life

Bears, Bears Everywhere by Steve Kemp, photos by Bill Lea

For information about Smokies Life, and specifically our Park Keeper program:

And the home for Smokies BearWise:

January 8, 2024 | WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Minnesota DNR Bear Project Lead Andrew Tri winter update:

“Mild winter weather will not harm hibernating bears”

Black Bear Support Biologist Janelle Musser of Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency gives information about living and recreating in bear country:

 The BearWise® program was developed by black bear biologists and is supported by State wildlife agencies. BearWise provides sound information and smart solutions that help people, neighborhoods, and communities prevent problems and keep bears wild.


June 11, 2023 | The Washington Post

Emily Carrollo, a bear biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and BearWise, explains why videos of black bears roaming cities are becoming more common in the eastern U.S., and what to do if you find yourself face-to-face with a furry neigh-bear.

Short Video

Tahoe Interagency Bear Team and BearWiseBears don’t know when they cross from one state to another or from federal lands to state lands to private lands. So the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife banded together with other state and federal agencies to make sure that all the people living and playing in the Lake Tahoe community that straddles both states got the same consistent, science-based message about living responsibly with black bears.

To help them introduce BearWise to the area, the CDFW invited BearWise to write something for their popular blog, The Bear Naked Truth (March 2023)


If bears could read, we wouldn’t need BearWise®. Bears excel at acting in what they perceive are their best interests: finding food, finding shelter, finding mates, raising their cubs, coexisting with each other. But they have no clue that avoiding people and people places would be in their long-term best interests.

But if bears could read, they would quickly learn that taking advantage of all those human-provided food sources carries risks that are far greater than any short-term reward. Bears are super-smart, resourceful and adaptable. They’d decide that no matter how tempting it was, staying far away from people was the wise thing to do.

Read Original Blog by Linda Masterson

by Brian Whipkey, Pennsylvania Outdoors Columnist: 

Black bears appear to be healthy during this winter’s hibernation in Pennsylvania.

“So far, a lot of the bears are in good shape,” said Emily Carrollo, black bear program manager for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, during a mother bear den check Friday in northern Cambria County. In considering this year’s and last year’s den checks, “Every single bear we went to had a beautiful coat and was fat and happy. And the cubs were in really good shape,” she said.

“We go to anywhere from a dozen to three dozen dens every year, depending on the research we have going on in the state of Pennsylvania,” she said. This year is an in-between research year, and the team is only checking on eight dens and a few yearling bears.

Read Original Article for BearWise Tips (Go Erie, March 2023)

BearWise Press Releases & Announcements

BearWise Lodging Safety Tips and Guest ChecklistBears belong in bear country. Bears don’t belong in trash containers, picnic grounds, swimming pools, vehicles, buildings and lodging. Two new fact sheets from BearWise will help lodging providers and their guests keep bears where they belong and out of where they don’t.

The Be BearWise Guest Checklist is organized into seven categories and emphasizes safely stashing the trash, discouraging bear break-ins and why feeding bears is so dangerous. There are tips on cookouts, outdoor safety and what to do if you encounter a bear and important precautions for people traveling with dogs.

The BearWise Lodging Safety Tips Fact Sheet is packed with valuable information on how to be a BearWise host, useful tips for training staff and educating guests from reservation to checkout, how to bear-proof your property (did you know bears can open car doors and French doors?), and links to other useful resources.

Who’s using: Short-term rentals, resorts, camps, clubs, homeowner associations, visitor centers, parks and forests, outdoor educators, libraries, NGOs.

Benefits:  Help guests have a safe vacation, go home with happy memories and be inspired to post great reviews. Help staff do a better job of dealing with constant guest turnover and ongoing maintenance. Avoid messy cleanups and prevent expensive property damage. And feel good about helping to keep bears wild.

Cost & Format: Free, print-ready PDF (2 pages)

Where to Find: Download

BearWise®. Created by bear biologists. Supported by State Wildlife Agencies. Dedicated to helping people live responsibly with black bears.
Copyright © 2024 Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

BearWise Bulletin 3: Electric Fences Keep Bears OutElectric fencing is widely recognized as the safest, most effective long-term solution to protecting people’s stuff from bears. But for first-time fencers, knowing that electric fences work is one thing; feeling comfortable choosing, installing and safely operating the fence that’s right for you is another. Luckily for people and bears, knowledge is power.

The BearWise “Electric Fences Keep Bears Out” bulletin is organized into six categories that cover how electric fences work, choosing an energizer, laying out fence wires, selecting posts and insulators, grounding a fence in any type of soil, and keeping fences in good working condition. Helpful graphics, handy tips and easy-to-follow guidelines take the mystery out of how to put this powerful tool to work.

What’s Getting Protected: Primary residences, vacation homes/cabins, beehives, chickens, small livestock, fruit trees, edible gardens, garbage, and more.

Benefits: When people use electric fencing to protect their stuff, they’re protecting bears too. Bears that try to crawl under, over or through an electric fence get a shocking lesson they won’t forget. Bears stay out. People, pets and stuff stay safe. And bears stay wild.

Cost & Format: Free, print-ready PDF (2 pages)

Where to Find: Download

BearWise®. Created by bear biologists. Supported by State Wildlife Agencies. Dedicated to helping people live responsibly with black bears.
Copyright © 2024 Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Washington D.C. (May 24, 2023)  – The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is excited to announce that BearWise has now been adopted by 39 states and is being utilized by people nationwide. BearWise meets the growing need for consistent information on living responsibly with black bears. This innovative program provides information supported by sound science and useful resources that give people, neighborhoods, communities, and businesses practical ways to prevent human-bear conflicts and help keep bears wild.

“BearWise offers a wealth of useful information and smart solutions that help homeowners, businesses and communities coexist with bears,” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and President of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “This program delivers information people can understand and trust, and resources and tools people can use with confidence. The Association is proud to be part of such an impressive program.”

Black bears were once found over all of America’s forested lands, but as the country was settled, bear populations fell. Today, thanks to new attitudes and decades of enlightened conservation and management efforts, black bears have made a dramatic comeback over much of their historic range and are returning to many places where they haven’t been seen in decades. There are once again established bear populations in at least 40 states and frequent sightings in several more. More people than ever before are living in, visiting, and spending time outdoors in bear country. The combination of more people in bear country and more bears living in closer proximity to people creates more potential for human-bear interactions and conflicts. The need for a trusted nationwide resource that provides scientifically sound information about how to live responsibly with bears and avoid causing conflicts has never been greater.

“It’s not enough for a state wildlife agency to just educate people about bears. We need them to take action. BearWise provides many resources that help people prevent conflicts around their homes and communities as well as when they’re spending time outdoors in bear country. Agencies also benefit when visitors from BearWise states travel and bring their knowledge with them. Being BearWise is a way of life,” said Dan Gibbs, Black Bear Program Leader for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Committee Chair for the BearWise program.

BearWise was developed by state agency bear biologists who wanted to make sure that no matter where people lived, played, or traveled, they got the same consistent message about coexisting with bears. Today the BearWise program is managed by a team of North American bear biologists and communications professionals and supported by the Association and the BearWise member state wildlife agencies.

Visit and discover why people all over North America rely on BearWise for information they can trust and resources they can use.

Download PDF of full release

BearWise® has a prominent role at 6th International Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in October 2022. A five-member BearWise panel will discuss how BearWise builds bridges, promotes partnerships and works to bring people together at the national, state, community and neighborhood levels.

The Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop is a unique gathering that occurs every three or four years and brings together wildlife managers, social scientists, educators, researchers, groups and organizations and people from all over the world and all walks of life who are involved in better understanding, resolving and preventing human-caused conflicts with bears. Submissions are reviewed and voted in by a large panel of independent judges, so it is an honor to be chosen to share the BearWise story with this international audience.

Learn more at

Creating BearWise Community Partnerships (webinar) looks at the working relationship between Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and how it has fostered community partnerships that encourage communities surrounding GRSM to become BearWise. Hosted by the National Park Service in June 2020; presented by Bill Stiver (GRSM), Dan Gibbs (TWRA) and Linda Masterson (BearWise).

View NPS Webinar

Tag: 2020

After more than 2 years of research and development, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) launched in 2018. Their mission: help people live more responsibly with black bears by providing consistent, science-based information and proven, practical ways to prevent conflicts, resolve problems, and develop BearWise communities to keep bears wild.

The BearWise® program was pioneered by bear biologists from SEAFWA’s 15 member states, where about 70,000 black bears are trying to share space with more than 124 million people. Growing populations of both bears and humans are leading to a rising number of human-bear encounters and conflicts.

The dedicated BearWise Committee, which is a part of SEAFWA’s Large Carnivore Working Group, is co-chaired by Dan Gibbs, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Maria Davidson, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The communications team includes Linda Masterson, author of Living with Bears Handbook.

“Bears have no idea when they cross from public to private lands or from one state to another; that’s why a regional effort to reach out to people who live, work and recreate where bears live too makes so much sense,” explained Gibbs.

The BearWise store offers a range of educational materials, including free print-ready handouts. Anyone interested in receiving timely information about living with bears can subscribe to BearWise emails. As the BearWise program continues to grow and develop, additional resources will be added to the website for bear managers and professionals as well as members of the public, including homeowner associations and municipalities.

Founding member states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

BearWise, Helping People Live Responsibly with Black Bears
Created and Supported by State Wildlife Agencies and Bear Biologists

BearWise Contacts

National Chairman:
Dan Gibbs, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Communications and Marketing Director:
Linda Masterson, 970-231-7500    

To inquire about placing an order for a state agency:

State Bear Management Information:
Every state wildlife agency has unique factors that steer state bear management policies and actions. To request information about bears in a specific state or a state-specific issue, incident, situation or action, contact the state wildlife agency directly. BearWise does not comment on these types of state-specific matters.