March 7, 2012
Kind News Story: Sharing Our World with Bears
Black bears in your backyard? It may be time to clean up your act
Imagine you just returned home from school. You’re hungry and a sweet-smelling snack is sitting on the kitchen counter. Could you resist helping yourself? Probably not!
Wild animals can’t resist a free handout either. Unfortunately, once they learn that there is food for the taking, conflicts with humans occur. They can become a nuisance or, in some cases, present a safety hazard to humans. And they can put themselves in harm’s way. A good example is the black bear.
The Bear Facts
In recent years, the number of black bears in the U.S. has risen. Forests once cleared for farming have started to grow back and black bears have returned to them. But the bears are finding that their forest habitat has changed. Instead of thick forests covering thousands of acres, bears now have neighbors nearby. Roads, homes, schools, and shopping centers have been built at the edge of their forest home. And with humans and bears trying to share the same space, problems occur.
Black bears usually prefer to avoid people, but their nose may lead them to trouble. With their incredible sense of smell, the bears can sniff out a tasty treat two or three miles away. Food left out in a park or backyard is an invitation to dinner. And while raiding a cooler, grill, bird feeder, trash can, car—or even a home—they can do a lot of damage. When that happens, people get angry. If another solution isn’t immediately apparent, they want the bears killed.
Be Bear Aware
Groups like Bear Aware, Bear Wise, and Bear Smart are trying to keep that from happening. They’re educating people on how to reduce the chances of bears stopping by for a snack. They’re convincing people that by following some simple steps, it’s possible to live peacefully with our wild neighbors.
You Can Do It!
Be the teacher! Teach family, friends, and neighbors to be bear aware. Use the tips below to make posters, fliers, or door hangers.
- Keep doors and windows locked.
- Don’t feed pets outdoors.
- Feed birds only in winter.
- Cean food scraps and grease from grills.
- Keep garbage and recyclables indoors until trash pickup day.
- Clang pots and pans together to scare bears away. But, just like any other wild animal, don’t run from or approach a bear!