ODFW: Be 'bear aware' during the fall

ODFW: Be 'bear aware' during the fall
Photo courtesy Flickr user anoldent (Creative Commons).

PORTLAND, Ore. - Fall is here and that means bears will be out looking for food before they start their winter hibernation.

"Fall is a critical season for Oregon's black bears," said Tonya Moore, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's North Willamette Watershed District. "Winter is around the corner and bears must get down to the business of accumulating fat reserves to see them through."

According to Moore, bears will consume large amounts of tree fruits, berries and nuts in order to increase their body fat by as much as 35 percent. They will also be looking for other sources of food to help them gain that extra fat.

ODFW has the following tips for those who live in rural areas where it's possible a bear might pay a visit:

  • Keep pet food indoors
  • Remove fruit that has fallen from trees
  • Add lime to compost piles to reduce odors - do not compost meat, bones, fruit, dairy products or grease
  • Secure garbage cans in a garage, shed or behind a chain link or electric fence
  • Purchase bear-proof garbage cans if necessary
  • Clean garbage containers regularly with diluted bleach to reduce odors
  • Use electric fencing to keep bears form orchards, gardens, compost, beehives and berries
  • Store livestock food in a secure place
  • Never, ever feed a bear

One last tip from Moore - try to refrain from feeding other wildlife like birds, squirrels and deer because the food can attract bears as well.

"Working with your community to make sure everyone is doing their part to avoid attracting bears is the best step you can take to minimize the risk of a serious bear conflict," she said.