It is possible
to deter bears

Bear Safety Tips

Keep Bears Out of Homes & Businesses

“Coexisting with black bears often means keeping them from getting food and garbage from around your home, business, and farms.”

Colleen Olfenbuttal
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Explore These Solutions

Bear-Resistant Trash Containers

Bear-Resistant Barriers
Electric fences, Trash enclosures, Unwelcome mats

Bear-Resistant Animal Feeders
For birds and deer

Other Bear Deterrents
Guard Animals, Scare Devices

Does deer repellent work on bears?

Bear-Resistant Trash Containers

Purchase Bear-Resistant Containers

Regular trash cans and dumpsters may look sturdy, but  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.

Where to buy:

Do-It-Yourself Containers

Some containers can be made black bear-resistant with materials purchased from local hardware stores. These flyers offer several do-it-yourself methods.

Contact your local fish and game officer for other recommendations.

(Photo: FWC)

Bear-Resistant Barriers

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.

Electric Fence Tips:

  • 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, beehives and orchards can prevent damage.

Video Available: The “How to Use Electric Fencing to Secure Your Outdoor Attractants”  video shows how to secure beehives, trashcans, deer feeders, crops, livestock, bird feeders, and other items that may attract black bears or other unwanted wildlife.

These portable electric fencing systems were tested by the Missoula Testing and Development Center (MTDC) and approved by the US Forest Service for use in the Northern Continental Divide Grizzly Bear Ecosystem (NCDE). Although the requirements listed refer to the minimum specifications needed for fences used by backpackers and outfitters to keep grizzly and black bears away from food, garbage and other attractants in NCDE’s backcountry, rural homeowners looking for portable or temporary electric fencing solutions will find the detailed instructions, photos and troubleshooting tips helpful.    
electric fence
It’s important to check electric fence connections on a regular basis. Keep vegetation off of the fence and ensure the power source is sufficient.

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.

Buy or Build a Trash Enclosure

Unwelcome Mats

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)

Tie Down Your Beehives

The tie-down method of securing beehives 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.

tied-down beehives
Heavy-duty cargo straps with metal fasteners are best.

Bear-Resistant Animal Feeders

Bear-Resistant Bird Feeders

  • 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 post 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 bird feeder
A homeowner made this bear-resistant bird feeder. (Colorado Parks & Wildlife)
bear-resistant deer feeder

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

Guard Animals

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.

Learn more:

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

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