How to be bear aware and prevent problems

How to be bear aware and prevent problems
Photo courtesy Annie Agah

EUGENE, Ore. - A hungry bear has been making the rounds off Gimple Hill Road, digging through trash cans and gobbling bird seed.

"Right in front of me was the bear just chilling there eating some garbage," said Becky Perdew, who saw the bear in her backyard. "He didn't run away or anything. He was a cinnamon brown. And I said, 'Oh my God, there's a bear."

So what should you do if a bear turns your yard into a dinner buffet?

Wildlife officials said you are allowed to shoot a bear if you feel threatened. You do not need a special permit.  

"There are some provisions in the law that allows a person to protect their property and take a bear if it is causing damage or is a threat to human health and safety," said Brian Wolfer, district wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Springfield, Ore.

But there are many regulations for shooting - especially in the city - and you should clarify the laws in your area before choosing that option.

Wolfer also stressed that there are many other options besides shooting a bear.

"Just think of anything that a bear might eat and think of how you can put that away and make it inaccessible so that bears don't see houses as being associated with food sources," he said.

Brooks Fahy from the group Predator Defense said shooting a bear is not the right choice

"Nine times out of 10, where there's a bear/human type of conflict," Fahy said, "it's being created by people, inadvertently in most cases.

"People are feeding their pets outside, improperly storing their garbage - even black oil sunflowers seeds can attract bears," he said.

Bottom line: Don't feed the bears - and make sure your home and yard aren't full of tasty temptations.