Recently, I’ve been hearing stories and seeing social media posts about increased bear activity in and around local neighborhoods. It’s an incredible experience to see bears in the wild, but the devastating impacts from area wildfires over the past several years continue to drive many wild animal species into more populated areas as they seek out food, water, and shelter.
There are a number of things that can be done to discourage this behavior before it becomes habit. Bears are quick learners and have a keen sense of smell; once they’ve succeeded in getting food, they’ll remember the source and return to that same spot again in search of more. They also tend to be most active in the early morning and late evening hours, so one simple thing to do is take garbage containers to the curb on the morning of pickup instead of the night before.
Douglas Disposal has a great informational page on their website that details helpful ways to be more “bear aware.” Visit douglasdisposal.com/ddi-news/be-bear-aware to learn different strategies to discourage bears from getting into the garbage and seeking out other unnatural food sources.
Some additional suggestions include spraying trash containers and bags with non-lemon Pine Sol, ammonia, or bleach; removing pet food from decks and other outdoor areas, ensuring there is nothing edible (including gum, lotions, or other scented items) left in car trunks or glove compartments; thoroughly cleaning BBQ grills and drip pans and allowing the heat/flames to burn off any food remnants; and keeping freshly made food away from open windows and doors, as the smell can potentially draw a bear to the site. It doesn’t take much to motivate a bear to break into a car or through a door or window to reach food.
Another option to consider is the purchase of an animal-resistant garbage tote. Douglas Disposal offers these to customers for an additional fee. Call their business office at 775-782-5713 for more information.
At this time of year, it’s good to be mindful about all the wonderful fruit ripening and falling from the trees. To decrease the chance of a bear visit to the yard, pick fruit in a timely manner and try to keep the ground clear of fallen fruit.
I’m also adjusting my schedule to try and go out for walks before dark. My dog, Zeke, and I enjoy our evening strolls, but I’ve come across raccoons and coyotes before, and a bear encounter isn’t something I want to add to that list.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife page, ndow.org/learn-discover/wildlife-discovery/livingwith-wildlife/, offers suggestions and strategies for living near and around wildlife. They have sections specific to mammals (including bears), birds, and reptiles, and a little bit of education, awareness, and effort can go a long way in ensuring our area’s wildlife stays wild.