Safety Tips

Livestock, Bees and Crops


Do not watch bears wander around your property!

1. Consider your ATTRACTANTS…what might be bringing them in?
2. Are there simple things you can do to PREVENT bear trouble?
3. Are there DETERRENTS that will help you keep bears out?

Secure Your Livestock & Their Food

The attraction

Chickens and rabbits, and other small livestock can be big attractants for bears. If you want fresh eggs and have backyard chickens, you may have visiting bears and need to take precautions.

Most large livestock are not vulnerable to black bears. However newborn or baby animals can be at risk.

From chicken scratch to grain, all livestock feed can attract bears.


  • Manage animal feed:
    • Feed for your livestock and pets should always be stored away from the animals.
    • Store feed either in a locked, bear-resistant shed, or in a bear-resistant container.
  • Place livestock pens at least 50 yards away from wooded areas and other cover that could protect bears from view. Confine livestock in buildings and pens, especially during lambing or calving seasons.
  • Consider bringing livestock, particularly smaller animals, inside at night.
  • Remove carcasses from the site and dispose of them by rendering or deep burial.


The deterrents for crops include electric fencing, guard animals and scare devices. Visit the Keep Bears Out page for detailed information.

  • 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.
  • A guard animal such as a dog, donkey, or llama may protect livestock in large pastures from bears, coyotes and other potential predators. However, not all guard animals are equally suited for all situations and environments. Certain dog breeds may be better for preventing bear predation. Please research breeds and suitability before committing to a guard animal.
  • 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.

Crop Sense in Bear Country

The attraction

Hungry bears find fruit a sweet treat worth coming back for nightly. To reach fruit, they may break branches and harm orchard trees. Field crops, such as corn and oats, may attract bears that can wreak havoc on the crops. Timber can even be an attractant, when bears may feed on the inner bark of young trees.

Some black bears have discovered ripe corn fields and must be fenced out or deterred. (Photo: Bill Byrne/Mass Wildlife)


  • Plant vulnerable crops away from forest or shrub cover, or remove protective cover from a radius of 50 yards around the crops.
  • Make sure you pick you tree fruit as soon or even before the fruit is ripe.
  • Pick up and remove fallen fruit that makes an easy meal for bears.


The deterrents for crops include electric fencing, guard animals and scare devices. Visit the Keep Bears Out page for information

Electric fencing protecting an orchard

Bears Out of the Bees, Please!

The attraction

Some bears are so fond of larval bees and honey, that they will seek out hives in their home range.

Bee hive damage by black bear (Photo: Danny Ray)


Instructions for installing or obtaining the following deterrents are found on the Keep Bears Out page:

  • Tied-Down Beehives
  • Electric fencing
  • Guard animals.
  • Scare devices.


  • Locate beehives as far as possible from forest and brush that provide bears cover and travel routes.
  • Harvest honey crops as soon as possible after the spring, summer and fall nectar flows. Bare hives reduce their appeal to foraging bears.
  • When possible, move apiaries to new locations if bear activity is detected nearby.
  • Install and maintain electric fences. Consolidate hives and then fence them in to form the smallest apiary that can be practically managed. The more scattered the hives are in large areas, the more difficult it is for beekeepers to protect them.
Electric fences can frustrate determined bears in rural areas. (Photo: Danny Ray)

Bottom photo: Russ Talmo