BearWise #4

Never Leave Pet Food Outdoors

Feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food and bowls after feeding. Store pet food where bears can’t see or smell it.

Never leave food out for stray dogs and cats.

Feeding Dogs & Cats in Bear Country

The food we give to our pets and livestock is rich in fat and protein, and this makes pet food extremely attractive to bears.

If you can’t feed dogs and cats indoors, then feed outdoor pets amounts that will be completely eaten during each meal. Clean the area after each feeding, so there is no uneaten food left outside. Bring the bowls inside at night.

How to store pet food

Bags of pet food are vulnerable to bears. A bear can drag pet food bags off of your property to consume it, or it may create a mess on your porch or in your shed while it searches for pet food.

You can keep black bears out of your pet food by storing it in a screw-top container (see photo) or other bear-resistant storage. Visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s website for a list of certified bear-resistant containers.

container with screw-on lid
A container with a screw-on lid will keep bears out of pet or livestock food that has to be stored outdoors. (Photo: FWC)

Raising chickens in bear country

As backyard chickens have become more popular, chickens and chicken feed have quickly become a major attractant for bears. Unsecured chicken coops lead to conflicts, resulting in property damage and bears having to be killed.

Store Chicken Feed in Bear-Resistant Containers

Store your chicken feed in a bear-resistant container. There are some preferred bear-resistant containers that you can purchase or make on your own. For bear-resistant storage options, see Keep Bears Out and BearWise Basic #2 Secure food, garbage, & recycling.

Protect Chickens with electric fencing

If you choose to raise chickens in bear country, the best option is to install a bear-resistant electric fence for your chickens. Electric fencing is a cost effective and highly adaptable way to protect your chickens and minimize conflicts with a variety of wildlife species that might raid your coop. Download our new bulletin: Electric Fence Fences Keep Bears Out.

chickens killed by a bear
Bear predation on unsecure chicken pen (Photo: FWC)
Electric-fenced chicken pen
Electric-fenced chicken pen (Photo: Russ Talmo)
black bear at shed
A shed with secure windows and bear-resistant door handle.

Feeding Livestock, Not Bears

Livestock feed is especially attractive to bears.

Visit Livestock and Crops and Keep Bears Out for bear-resistant storage options.

  • Store all feed in containers with locked or screw-on lids. There are some bear-resistant containers that you can purchase.
  • Another option is to store feed inside a secure building, garage or shed.
  • Electric fences deter black bears from livestock feed and predation. Read more about fencing in our new bulletin.

Top photo: Marina Richie