Living with Black Bears

     The American Black Bear is a well known resident in wooded areas on the east coast of the United States, in Virginia , in Rockbridge County, and yes, even in and around Glasgow. In recent years there have been more bear sightings than ever before. This is largely due to the a growing population of bears and people, who are building their homes in the wooded areas, the natural habit of the bears.  

     The bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes. The most attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food, but grills, livestock food, compost and beehives can also attract them.  

     Residential bear problems are more common when natural food supplies are limited, usually in spring, or in years when nut and berry productions are low. You know you have a bear problem if you experience turned over garbage cans, trash littered across the yard, damaged bird feeders, disturbed pet food bowls left outside in dog pens or on porches.  The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries provide us with some good info on how not to attract the bears to our residences. 

  • Store garbage indoors, in a shed, in a garage, or in a bear proof container. 
  • Put garbage out the morning of pickup, not the night before.  
  • Take trash to the dump frequently.  
  • If feeding pets outside, give them only what they will eat in a single feeding and remove food bowls when they are finished. 
  • Clean the outdoor grill often.  
  • Do not put meat scraps or any other strong smelling food in the compost pile.  
  • Take bird feeders inside at night. These are prime targets for bears as they like seeds and nuts found in the wild.  
  • Pick up and remove ripe fruit fallen on the ground.  
  • Install electric fencing to protect beehives, dumpsters, gardens, compost piles, or other potential food sources.  
  • Talk to your neighbors about doing all they can to comply with ways to prevent nuisance bear problems.  

     If you do spot a bear on your property do not create a problem by approaching, crowding around, or chasing the bear. This applies to bears that have climbed a tree. The best policy is to leave it alone because they have a natural fear of humans, and if it feels cornered will be looking for an escape route. It is best to keep people and pets away and let it come down and/or leave on its own. Also, if you see a cute cuddly bear cub don't even think about approaching it, because be assured mama bear isn't far off and she will get real defensive to protect her baby or babies.  

     If you are having a problem with bears on your property even after taking appropriate steps to prevent a problem, contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or local law enforcement. For more information check out this website http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/.

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