How to Discourage Bears From Coming Into Your Backyard

Back to Resolving Backyard Wildlife Problems

Bear Cub photo by Ron Toel

It is important to prevent bear problems and that is everyone's responsibility. Work within your neighbors to encourage others to manage their garbage, dog food, birdseed - or anything else that might attract a bear.


  • Garbage: Do not put out garbage for pickup the night before. Store garbage and animal feed inside secure buildings or in bear-proof containers. Keep your garbage secured until just before scheduled pickup.

    • A bear-proof container would be, for example, a steel drum fitted with a locking lid.

    • Don't bury or burn your garbage, as this may still attract bears.

  • Don't Feed Them!
    • Bears like pet food, horse feed, meat scraps and fish. Keep them in a secure place.

    • Barbecues can also be powerful attractants. Storing them in a protected place and burning off grease after each meal helps to discourage bears.

    • Avoid composting anything you think a bear might like to eat. fish and meat are favorites, and seaweed and kelp have enough fishy smell to attract hungry bears.

    • Domestic animals draw bears. Keep them where they are safe. Chickens and rabbits kept in outside pens are easy and attractive prey

    • Bears, especially black bears, like birdseed and suet. If you have a problem with bears, don’t feed birds between early April and late October. Clean up uneaten food and seed hulls each spring when you put your feeders away.

  • Place your garden so it doesn't attract bears. Placing your garden in the open, away from cover and game trails, helps to discourage bears.

Electric fences can be effective. If used properly, electric fences can keep bears out of gardens and compost piles. They can also protect homes and domestic animals.


  • Ref.: Living in Harmony with Bears, a project of the Alaska State Office of the National Audubon Society. It is designed to help people co-exist with brown/grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and black bears (Ursus americanus).

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson