As bears emerge from their dens, contain all attractants!

As of April 5, there are increasing reports of signs of black bear activity across the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 (which includes Missoula). There have also been reports of grizzly bears in the Seeley Lake area.

Don't attract bears to your property. The food bears find on your property may keep them from denning. Bear attractants include garbage, birdseed, chickens, livestock, feed and pet food, tree fruit, gardens and compost, BBQs, coolers, unsecured outdoor freezers or other easily obtainable food.

Below are some ways you can make your property Bear Smart:

  • Use electric fencing for attractants like chicken coops, gardens, compost piles, livestock and other attractants that are commonplace or come with the landscape. Learn more about deterring bears with electric fencing.
  • Use the recommended bear-resistant products for your trash, livestock feed, coolers and other food storage.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean your BBQ after each use.
  • If you do not have a bear-resistant cooler, container for livestock feed, or other food storage, store them indoors where bears cannot access them.
  • Do not put birdfeeders out from March to Dec. 1, or longer if bears are still active. This year, as of Jan. 11, some bears are still active.
  • Don’t leave trash, groceries or animal feed in your vehicle. Bears can pry open car and truck doors or break windows to get at food.
  • If you have a fruit tree on your property, pick fruit as it becomes ripe and remove any fruit off the ground. Store the picked fruit in a secure building, garage or shed. Electric fencing may be effective at keeping bears from this attractant. Contact Missoula Valley Fruit Exchange, Garden City Harvest or Great Bear Foundation Bears and Apples program if you’re unable or need assistance picking your fruit.
  • If you garden, do not use blood meal, and use an electric fence to keep bears out.
  • If you compost, avoid putting meat, fish, melon rinds or other pungent scraps in the pile, or just don’t compost kitchen scraps. Keep the pile aerated and properly turned, and, again, do not use blood meal.

All too often, bears find anthropogenic foods while in their quest for natural food resources. Bears that become used to being around people may be called “habituated”. Bears that receive “food rewards” like garbage or birdseed can become “food-conditioned” and exhibit behaviors like walking on porches and causing property damage that leads to their removal. By securing attractants on your property, you can keep bears wild, improving the safety of both bears and people. Learn more about being bear smart on

You can also learn more about being bear smart on Missoula County’s Tip of the Spear podcast The Bears are Calling: How the County and City are Becoming Bear Smart

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