Gardening with Bears

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Who would have thought? Our farm is located right next to a canyon which has a large creek. Every spring and fall we are visited by wild black bear.  Our farm has a wooded area in the back and we are surrounded by apple orchards and grape vineyards. The first year we saw a black bear it was very exciting and it still is. However, black bears are very dangerous wild animals and cannot be taken for granted or taken lightly.

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Black Bear chased up a Tree / Sensible Gardening and Living

For the most part the bears really don’t want to have much to do with us, we are a corridor down into the orchards where food it plentiful. I would prefer however not to run smack into a black bear in my garden. We make a great effort to learn about black bears and to keep the area around the house bear unfriendly to hopefully keep them at a distance. Bears are creatures of habit and follow the same trail throughout the season, so keeping them away from the yard in the first place is our best insurance.

Bird feeders are put away until the bears have gone into hibernation. They are attracted to the bird seed, quite a treat for them. They also will completely destroy your feeders while getting at the seeds.

Barbecues are cleaned after each use. The smell of grilled food it just too much for a bear to ignore.

All garbage is stored in the garage until pick up day. It is taken to the street in the morning just before the garbage truck arrives and is placed in very secure containers with tight lids.

Our pets are fed indoors and the pet food is stored indoors as well. Rovers chewing bones are not left lying around the yard.

The trees on our property do not produce fruit. If you have fruit trees be sure to pick all the fruit as soon as it ripens. Always pick up any free falls from the ground. Only a few of our shrubs produce berries.

Vegetables from our garden are harvested as soon as they are ripe. Bears particularly love the root crops.

The garden compost area is kept clean and tidy. Absolutely no meat, fish, oils or dairy is added. You can add a bit of lime to the pile to aid in decomposition and to reduce the odor.

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Compost Bins / Sensible Gardening and Living

Salt and mineral blocks are a no-no. We know the deer love them but so do the bears.

Vehicles are never left with food inside them, or anything bear tempting in the back of the truck.

Citronella attracts bears so we never use products or outdoor mosquito candles that contain it.

Clover is loved by bears. Seeding areas with clover is not recommended.

Even after all this we still occasionally have a bear in the garden. Respect that bear and avoid it at all costs. Regular fencing is useless and electrical or bear fencing is not all that practical for most people. It is also very expensive and rather ugly. A real good outside farm dog works quite well. Bears would rather not get involved with the barking beast. Loud noises will deter a bear. The simple clanking of pots and pans has many a bear tottering off as does a bear whistle.

If you have bears in your area keep alert when you are outdoors working. Alway be on the defense and stay out of their way. If I know anything about black bear, once they find something they like, for sure they will be back.

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