Black and brown bear live in many American states. California, for example, has a thriving bear population. Wildlife experts estimate that approximately 30,000 bears call California home, though you may never encounter one if you live in an urban area.
Yet, suburban and agricultural areas are another story. Surprising as it may be, many a bear has made it to the front pages of newspapers and YouTube videos by soaking happily in a hot tub or by swimming in a pool. These encounters with bears normally end well. As long as you do not approach the bear and stay inside the house, that is.
If you live in a suburban or rural area, the greatest danger bears pose is associated with food, improper food storage, and careless handling of trash.
Here are a few rules that will keep you and your family safe from bears:
- Use only bear-proof containers to keep your garbage
- Put the trash containers to the curb on trash collection day, not earlier
- Clean and deodorize garbage cans regularly
- Do not leave animal feed and groceries in your car
- Harvest fruit as soon as it has ripened
- Collect fallen fruit as soon as possible
- Move your grill inside or into a locked storage area
But what about camping, hiking, and fishing? Bears love careless campers and other outdoors enthusiasts that do not properly store their food. Thus, what we said above about proper food and garbage handling applies to an even greater extend to the outdoors. Your best defense against unwanted visits from a bear is an approved, bear-safe food storage container.
Just putting your food and garbage into a plastic bag and hang it from a tree branch is not a safe way to prevent bear visits, nor is leaving food in the trunk of your car.