Animals emerging from dens
Black bears are emerging from their dens throughout Wisconsin and homeowners are encouraged to take precautions to avoid potential conflicts.
“Many conflicts between homeowners and black bears occur as a result of some type of attractant, especially bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, uncontained compost or pet food left outside and accessible,” said Brad Koele, a wildlife damage specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist.
According to Koele, it is especially important to remove these attractants during the spring, when bears are emerging from dens and looking to restore depleted energy reserves because natural foods are limited.
It is illegal to intentionally feed bears in Wisconsin, but it is also important for homeowners to make sure they do not unintentionally feed bears via an accessible food source near their home.
“If a bear finds food such as bird feed or garbage near your home, it will likely return, but visits are more likely to stop when food is no longer available,” Koele said. “Bears will periodically check sites where food was once available, so it may take several days to weeks before a bear will quit visiting a site once the food source has been removed.”
“Living with Bears in Wisconsin,” found at dnr.wi.gov, will help landowners learn more about coexisting with bears in Wisconsin.
Homeowners can follow these steps to avoid attracting black bears:
• Do not knowingly feed a bear.
• Completely remove bird feeders, even during daytime hours. Bears are active during the day and may cause problems even if the feeders are out only during that time.
• Clean areas where bird feeders were located so that accumulated deposits of spilled seed are removed.
• Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in covered recycling containers or garbage cans.
• Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day and, if possible, keep garbage cans in a closed building until the morning of pickup.
• Be sure to lock commercial dumpsters.
• Keep pet food inside or inaccessible to bears even during daytime hours.
• Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
“If a bear is near your home, wave your arms and make noise to scare it away,” Koele said. “Back away slowly and seek a safe location where you can wait for the bear to leave. When scaring a bear away, make sure it has a clear escape route and never corner a bear. If you encounter a bear while in the woods, stay calm and do not approach the bear. Never approach a sow with cubs and do not attempt to break up a fight between your pet and a bear.”