Protect Your Home from Bears
We’ve all seen videos of bears creeping into the kitchens of Truckee and Tahoe homes. What a horrible mess to come home to! Even worse than a ransacked home is the potential for bears to break gas lines, turning on stoves, or coming face to face with one. To keep your home and the life of the bear safe, we have compiled the top ways to prevent a bear break in.
Attracting a Bear
It’s important to understand what attracts a bear. Common sense tells us that it’s any tasty bits of food, but their interest extends so much further than that. Bears have an incredible sense of smell and they are attracted to anything that resembles food, this includes bird feeders, scented lip balm, shampoo, candles, even gum. The BEAR League recommends avoiding using D-Con as a pest control around your house because that is also a bear attractant.
“If [bears] realize that people will defend their ‘food caches and dens’ and not allow the bears to feel Welcome, they will not bother us.” - BEAR League.
Black bear attacks are minimal – though they do still happen. If you see a bear, most likely it will just stay put and continue with whatever it was doing. By standing passively by a bear, even by stopping to take pictures of it, encourages the bear’s behavior and makes it feel welcome. Most bears undergo hibernation each winter because of the lack of food. However, availability of human food year-round means that there are still bears active during winter. "We've had a certain number of bears active during the winter in the last few years," said California Fish and Wildlife Biologist Jason Holley. "If I had to guess I'd say 10 to 15 percent are active during the winter." For bears that are planning a winter-long slumber, November is the month they generally increase their calorie intake and look for dens. That means late fall can be a very active time for bears.
Keep It Clean
First and foremost, you should never leave trash or food out in any season. It is illegal to allow a bear access to your garbage and/or to feed a bear. Use your bear boxes for trash or wait until trash collection morning to put your garbage out. We highly recommend investing in a bear box if your house does not already have one. Tahoe Bear Box can install a no-nonsense box. Do not leave trash or anything food scented in your car – bears will break into cars for something as small as a pack of gum. Vacuum your car frequently and keep the doors locked. If you use a barbecue, make sure that the grill and area around the grill is completely cleaned after cooking. Make sure there are no drips under the grill. Bird feeders might not be a great idea, but if you have one make sure it hangs far away from the house, that you’re bring it in at night, and that you clean whatever crumbs fall from it.
Securing Your Home
Electric fencing works great, especially if you are absent from your house for long periods of time. Bear Busters can install electric fences as well as electric doormats. Doors made from solid wood or metal are harder for bears to break into, especially if they are installed with heavy deadbolts. You should replace single pane windows with double pane (this adds better insulation as well, win-win!). Lastly, block access to crawl spaces or other areas where bears could hibernate.
If you are only at your Truckee home part-time, you are at greater risk for a bear break in. Not to fret, there are many ways to ensure the safety of your house. Firstly, we recommend that you hire a security system that can check on your house while you’re gone. Talk to your HOA to see if they have recommendations. Before you leave for the season, make sure there is no food left in the house, that all the trashes are taken out, and that everything is cleaned.
If a bear is in your yard, the BEAR League encourages us to follow these rules: “Do not run from him, this may stimulate his instinct to chase. Let the bear know this is YOUR territory and he doesn't belong there. Don't be afraid or submissive. Yell at him, bang pots & pans, throw rocks. Make him think you are a bigger bear than he is!”
Ann Bryant, executive director of BEAR League, reminds us that "if you stand there talking sweet to him and taking pictures, then you've tamed him and created a monster."
To find more information on coexisting with bears, visit the BEAR League.