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Bear in my yard and it's clearly not scared of people

 
gardener
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Last fall, a bear tore up and nearly destroyed a special plum tree. I have seen sign but not an actual bear.

Earlier this week, I looked out my window to see a small bear grazing out the window. An air horn startled it but it came right back.

Today, I heard it right outside my window and when I went outside, it didn't react when it saw me. It went up a tree when I sounded the air horn but five minutes after I went inside, it came down and just went back to looking around. Clearly not scared of people.

I don't currently have any food outside. No trash cans. Nothing in garden. Gave up on compost after they clearly liked it when I added food. Maybe I created this issue with attempting that.

I grew up here and we had dogs that kept them far away. After that, my parents never had issues except when the apples were ripe and only at night. Having it this close during the day and clearly unafraid concerns me.

Reading the couple threads on this site didn't help. I'm only here part time (although a lot currently) and I'm worried for my fruit crop when it comes in and potentially for myself when it's bigger if I walk up on it accidentally.   I have bear spray now but it's often windy enough, I'd probably take myself out too. I don't own a gun but figured I would get one and learn to use it well when I was here full time. Maybe that's the solution.

I don't want to live in fear or constant caution here. Get enough of that in the city.

I don't know if I'm venting or asking for advice. Either way, thanks for listening.

Oh and to add, I have 10 acres a few miles from town so I'm not exactly in bear country but not in town either.
 
pollinator
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I'm all for live and let live, but sometimes that's not an option.  Bears that aren't wary of people are much more likely to become an issue both for property damage and personal harm.  It sounds like you're already dealing with a bear that may be an issue.  Your first priority is to make sure you're safe.

I would talk to the powers that be and find out what constitutes a problem bear and what the approach to them is.  If you find you have to kill the bear, I'd try to find a way to use the meat or bring in someone who will.  Fall bear is pretty greasy, so I'd harvest the bear sooner than later both for your use of the land and for palatability, if that's the route you go.
 
Sonja Draven
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Thank you, Timothy! I appreciate your response.

I realized I already feel vulnerable with so many aspects of being here. Two steps forward and one back with confidence... So many challenges. I am learning so much so quickly (used a Sawzall to cut up a much of heavy duty pipe yesterday... First time cutting metal)  It's hard to keep up. Exciting but...

I will make some calls tomorrow to find out options and reach out to my neighbors about the meat.
 
pollinator
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Can you get photos? Wondering if this is a desperate orphan, or failing yearling. Check with local rehabbers/conservation/Fish and Game to see if trap and relocate is an option.

Not sure that it is not afraid of humans based on description. It reacts normally, IMO, but at some point it needs to "get over it" and continue what it as doing, likely eating (grass?). Being as close to town as you are, it has likely had close human contact all it's life, therefore it is familiar with humans - very different than "not afraid". That he reacts appropriately to airhorn and human approach is more critical.

The easiest fix is what you had as a child, a dog. Next would be electric fencing, not necessarily the entire 10 acres, perhaps just a 200 foot perimeter around house/gardens.

Keep the airhorn handy, but consider making a mental deal with the bear also - sort of a pact to live and let live, with conditions - sounds odd and a bit "airy fairy" but I know so many folks who feel this works, and both parties are content to co-exist.



 
pollinator
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There should be an area Animal Control officer or Game Warden who can give you advice and possibly remove the bear.  Do not tackle the bear on your own, certainly.

 
Sonja Draven
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Lorrine, I don't know if I described it well enough. He doesn't react normally to human approach. At least not like I am used to. He ignored me until I got close to him with the air horn and blew it repeatedly as I approached and then he climbed the tree. Since then I have gone outside a couple times (he has been in my front field all afternoon) and he just looks at me and goes back to eating although I was a ways away.

I went out just now because he was right in front of the house again to get your picture and he climbed the tree again only when I got close.

I have family who like to visit with small children so even if I were okay with an airy fairy solution for me, it wouldn't work for them.
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Sonja Draven
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Tyler, it's a small town so I am not sure of the warden options. I will start with the police and go from there.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Bears have super crappy eyesight, if you are downwind, and further that 20 feet away they will be totally oblivious to your presence. If starving, that distance will decrease even more. The fact that it does not huff, stamp, charge or otherwise try to engage with you is why I suggested 'not scared of humans' may not be the cleanest description of the bears behavior.

The airhorn is still a great tool, if a gun is too much (money, training, comfort) then check out "Bear Bangers". They are essentially a cross between firecrackers and a shot gun shell without pellets. They are simple to operate and very loud and scary, but I'm not sure if they are fire safe in dry or high fire rated locales.

Every state/province has a Conservation/Fish and Game department that deals with wildlife conflicts. Unfortunately, they vary vastly in the MANNER things are dealt with.

I can't tell how big he is, or what are 'normals' in your area, so I can't tell if it's a youngster or cub from the pic.

I do know that nature hates a vacuum - unless preventative or deterrent measures  (dog, E fence, etc) are employed, the removal of this bear will not eliminate the issue, only the 'visible' presence will be gone leaving room for, perhaps, a more confrontational one. Ideally, this one learns YOUR boundaries, and maintains it's territory, so it becomes a 'win win'.
 
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The police or game warden is certainly the best option. But just for the sake of discussion, by blowing the air horn without any other consequence, you have taught the bear another lesson in not being afraid of humans. The bear now knows loud sounds mean nothing. In the absence of more official help, get a can of bear spray/repellant at a sporting goods store or online. Spray it following the directions, then blow the horn. You will teach it to associate pain with noise. Spray it as often as you can. Then eventually one of two things will happen, either the bear will permanently leave, or it will learn to run just at the sound of the horn. It's all Pavlov stuff.

As far as someone's earlier suggestion to make a pact with the bear (or any other animal or entity), it works great for me. For example, I am very clear with spiders. In my house is my space. You come in and you die. Outside is (spiders) space. I will never harm a spider outside. It's all simple respect for boundaries. This has worked very well for me with coyotes and snakes as well. Stay out of my yard and away from my livestock, and we will get along. Come in my space and you die.

It's fairly easy to make such a pact. It's almost like a form of praying. Fix very clearly your intent. Express very clearly your intent. Let them know what you want, and keep doing it. Use your thoughts and heart to talk. Make a connection being to being. Spoken words are not needed, and generally aren't going to be understood by most non-humans anyway. Just be clear with what you can/will accept, then follow through. You might get the occasional spider or snake/bear to violate the "rules", but eventually the family's of bears and others will learn and act appropriately. (That actually works pretty good with most humans as well, as long as you again are clear in intent & boundaries/borders.)
 
pollinator
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I know some folks that would be eating bear burger.  The last 2 problem bears I dealt with (1 black, 1 grizzly) were chased off using electric fencing.  The black bear kept getting into my grain barrels for the livestock, so I set the barrel up on a tire and electrified it with hotwire wrapped all around it.  One good POP and that bear never touched the barrels again.  The grizzly got in with the pigs and when we chased it out it got tangled up in the 6 joule fencing / metal field fencing combo and got fried really good.  Never came back.  

Enticing a bear to touch the electric fencing and catching it off guard is the best way, I think.  Confuse it so it doesn't understand why it just got blasted with electricity.   You could put a metal barrel on a tire and put compost or fruit in that.  You could suspend some electrified metal around your trees that the bears have to step on or touch.  You could simply put an electric fence up, too.  Electric fence chargers have almost no amperage, so they traumatize the senses but can't cause physical harm.

I also know some no-nonsense folks who've just electrified suspended garbage cans on their 110 AC; THAT would hurt, holy crap.  But the animals never touched their trash cans again.

A good solar charger for fencing may run $150-$200, but probably worth the investment for established fruit trees.  A good fence or electrified setup on a solar charger will need no maintenance or care from you if you're only there part-time.  I wouldn't get less than 1 joule; go with 3+ joules if you really want that bear to think twice.
 
pollinator
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I have a mama with cub and a lone yearling hanging around.

To my surprise neither gave me the space I expected, and this is a relatively populated area with plenty of trigger happy people... at least by Canadian standards. One fellow just down the road bragged to me about how many of this sow's cubs he has shot over the years.

My 'fix', which appears to have worked so far, was to jump in a vehicle and chase them out of the area I would like for a bear-free zone. Honking and driving right at them as fast as possible; this is much slower than they can run given the terrain but seems to have been fast enough to seem a credible threat.

Two repeats each and they are running if I ask them to. There is plenty of traffic on my road, they were already scared of vehicles... I'm just attempting to make them associate both me and my zone 1 area with angry bear-chasing vehicles.

The elec fence option is better; bearspray and a gun as backup seem optimal additions to any plan. The advantage of my plan is solely that it was expedient!
 
pollinator
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It looks small, is likely very hungry this time of year, and you have provided food. I have no bear problems since getting my LGD, even with productive fruit trees and fowl in a bear heavy area. I have heard of success with a radio being played under fruit trees to deter them, and would bet motion activated sprinklers would also help startle them. I agree with others that you should not let a problem bear go on unchecked, but you can also do more to keep it from coming to that. Throw rocks and sticks at it and act like an incredibly loud, crazy person if it comes anywhere in sight. I have been a backcountry ranger in some of the densest black bear habitat on Earth, have seen over a dozen in a day, and have had to walk past some within just a few yards, including a mama with cub that i did not see until too late to do anything else. They do not want to mess with one of the three animals that hunt them (the others being cougars and larger male bears).  In the spring they are hungry (not for you) and will ignore you until you make them turn away from their food of choice (often bear grass and grubs this time of year), or just let them do their thing and you do yours. You are still much more at risk any time you get in a car than from that bear...also, do you have a friend or neighbor who could lend you a big dog to scare it a few times at your property? They have very good memories for food and fear.  In this part of NW CA, I have met bear hazing dogs and their trainers, and you could try to find one in your area.

 
pollinator
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A bear broke the door off my coop and killed one of my chickens.  We're pretty sure it was a bear - there were big claw-holes in the drip cap on the roofing, a huge muddy paw print on the roof, and what else can tear the door off?

We rebuilt the door and attached all the hardware with bolts, not screws (which were there before).  We installed motion- and heat-detector alarms with flashing lights and sirenish sounds.  I remove the feed every night.

Last night we had a second attack.  The alarms were not set properly and DH didn't bring in the food.  The bear (who left more muddy paw prints) ripped a piece of hardware cloth from a narrow window but was unable to break in.  All the windows are narrow; it wouldn't be able to get in without taking the door off again.

I had success in the past (pre-chickens) with shouting at a bear who was after garbage.  It dropped the garbage can and ran away.  I was shouting from an upstairs window.  

With the second incursion, we are planning more motion-activated light and sound, including perhaps a burst of water.  (We are also planning to correctly arm the alarms!)  DH has a shotgun and can fire a warning shot, but we need to hear the bear if we are to shout or shoot.  In Vermont, our bears are black bears.  They prefer to avoid people.

Any additional suggestions?  The position of the coop makes an electric fence quite difficult.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Grab a friend or neighbors baby monitor, simplest way to get notification your girls are upset. Electric fencing is your only real option, IMHO. Once discovered, the draw will always be there...
 
Anne Pratt
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Wow, Lorinne, that was fast!

Maybe we shouldn't spend any more on alarms and motion detectors, and save our pennies for some kind of innovative electric fence.  Your learned advice is much appreciated!
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Just fluke I was checking emails! Others will likely have suggestions also. Good luck! Oh, forgot to ask, is a guardian dog an option? Prob more expensive than electric fencing, and would not solve your immediate problem, but...
 
master steward
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Sonja Draven wrote:Tyler, it's a small town so I am not sure of the warden options. I will start with the police and go from there.



Sonja, your state would have a game warden or biologist for your area.  These are the best people to contact.

In Texas they are called Parks and Wildlife.  They are responsible for issuing hunting licenses.

It is very possible that killing a bear is illegal.

Contact the game warden so they can advise.  They may be able to set a trap and re-home the bear.

If you don't know how to contact someone do a internet search for your state's hunting license, their website would have information on who to contact for your area.
 
Sonja Draven
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Here's an update:

Last year was a rough year for human-bear interactions. Lots of local encounters with bears - even breaking into people's houses. Since they were dealing with those situations and had limited traps, my situation wasn't a priority. The issue was in the news several times during the summer with commentary on not feeding them, directly or indirectly. They said due to the late season, the bears didn't have enough natural food so were eating human food. That was frustrating for me since later in the summer, there were lots of ripe wild berries but they were still going after my very green apples and also destroying my trees in the process.

I did speak with the biologist for my region, which is how I initially learned some of the above. It is legal in my area to shoot a bear that threatens humans and/or destroys property, regardless of the time of year. There are guidelines for reporting it since they want to collect data. So I could have shot it. I was not in a position to shoot it myself, however, and didn't know anyone who could. I couldn't afford fencing and was dealing with a lot at that point.

I ended up stripping all the green fruit from all of my trees. It was painful for a lot of reasons but I decided that sacrificing one year's harvest to save the trees was the right decision. Since then I have learned to shoot and could take care of a bear that way. I have lots of friends now who could do it. I'm in a much better situation to try electric fencing. So if it's an issue this year, I have many options.

I have given up on the idea of composting here unless at some point I get a dog like we had when I was a kid. That dog kept everything away, including bear. I don't have a bird feeder, pets or animals, outside grill, garbage can, etc. I don't do any of the things most people do to attract bear and have not done those things.

Hopefully this will be a better year for bear and humans, and there will be lots of food without directly sharing our space. This is the year of our big family gathering (assuming it's an option later in the summer) and having bear wandering around my property won't be an option. But I'll cross that bridge if I get to it.

I added more fruit trees and berries this year and started a garden so I'll keep looking at big picture / long term solutions.

Sympathy for the new poster who is losing chickens and dealing with their own issues. :( I feel your pain.
 
Anne Pratt
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Thanks, Sonja. We are investigating other options.

A LGD isn’t an option at the moment. We are nurturing my ancient Chihuahua who is nearly blind and nearly deaf, and don’t plan on another dog for awhile. Then I would have to convince DH to get a good guardian breed, rather than the collie he desperately wants. He always had collies.

The baby monitor plus shotgun warning shot seems like the easiest approach right now.

In other news, there’s two inches of snow on the ground, and still falling. Happy May, New England!
 
Ben Zumeta
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Wilson, my Pyrenees-Akbash drove a bear off just yesterday, as he has done dozens of times since he was 6-months old. I thought Collies were large herding dogs, no? While a bit neurotic in my experience, they are large enough to scare most bears, and they’d seem to be a decent breed for your situation if raised with the birds. On the other hand, I cannot speak highly enough of our cross of two ancient LGD breeds. Their main downside is a desire to roam to any fenceline to patrol and obliviousness of cars being dangerous if they come within that perceived perimeter. If it weren’t for cars, I’d just let Willie roam, protecting the innocent:)
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First day with his birds as a pup
First day with his birds as a pup
 
Anne Pratt
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You can't make a better post than one with stunning mountains, fabulous LGD, and said LGD as a puppy.  With chickens.  What a great dog, and what an incredible view!
 
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There has been a few posts on here about ammonia keeping animals away.
Bears have pretty sensitive noses.
Maybe moth balls.
 
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Shoot the bear and eat it.
 
Anne Pratt
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Craig, I read that pine-scented cleaners might deter a bear!  I wonder how my chickens would like that, though.  I could let the poop build up and it would smell like ammonia, but that's bad for the hens, too.

Ken, we've thought about shooting it.  There are regulations in our state that we would have to scrutinize - it depends on the amount of loss the bear is causing as to whether you're allowed to shoot it, if I remember correctly.
 
pollinator
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Sonja - PM on the way.
 
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Anne Pratt wrote:Thanks, Sonja. We are investigating other options.

A LGD isn’t an option at the moment. We are nurturing my ancient Chihuahua who is nearly blind and nearly deaf, and don’t plan on another dog for awhile. Then I would have to convince DH to get a good guardian breed, rather than the collie he desperately wants. He always had collies.

The baby monitor plus shotgun warning shot seems like the easiest approach right now.

In other news, there’s two inches of snow on the ground, and still falling. Happy May, New England!



Sounds like you each need a dog...  A male and female of pretty much any breed will get along great.  For example, a female Collie and a male Anatolian Shepherd...

A number of years ago, my mother was watching my dog.  A bear came into her yard and was eating out of her bird feeder, so she grabbed my dad's 44 mag pistol and shot into the air.  The bear didn't even flinch, but the dog ran and hid under the bed...
 
Anne Pratt
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It hurts to laugh!

In my house, the shot would scare the people but the aged Chihuahua wouldn’t hear it. Going deaf. And blind. But when he smelled the bear, he growled mightily.
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On the job
On the job
 
pollinator
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My sister loves Chihuahuas. She's hooked, a serial offender. One got out  about 10 years ago and  disappeared into the wilderness of her suburban neighborhood. A couple hours later a knock at the door: A cop was holding the dog wrapped in about 5 layers of moving tarp. My sister thanked him effusively, but asked him if he wanted the tarp back and mentioned it certainly kept the dog quiet. That cop was a little sheepish, but his partner, standing a good 6' back, well away, growled that he had never met a Chihuahua that didn't bite. All parted in good humor.

Male Chihuahuas undoubtedly carry the fastest, loudest cojones  of any  animal I know. Her current monster is a 7# cross with something fluffy and beautiful but it rules the roost, bullying a 30# dingo dog night and day. It's affectionately (and NOT) known as Barko Ergo Sum... It'd probably run a bear off. <g>


Rufus
 
Anne Pratt
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Ahh, Rufus, thank you for the shout-out to Chihuahua lovers!

Sprocket (all 5.5 lbs. of him) is not really cut out to be a Vermont farm dog.  He doesn't like the cold, and he doesn't like to get his feet wet.  I'm not certain of his ability to guard the chickens because Blackbird (top of the pecking order) pecked him in the ear once and he ran across the yard and fell down the steep edge.  In his younger days, though, he was amazing.  In the first week I got him, he faced down a Great Dane.  When he played with bigger dogs, he was usually the one chasing, which was a sight to behold.  Once we had another bear incursion, onto our screened porch.  When I shouted the bear away and finally came downstairs to survey the damage, Sprocket smelled it and began making this chuffing sound I'd never heard him make before!  That should scare any bear.

Now he is 18.  He is losing his sight and hearing.  He pees in odd corners.  He bumps into the wall and is confused by a pair of slippers in his path.  But we love him, and he loves the woodstove!
 
Anne Pratt
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I forgot a picture


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Yes! A fire!
Yes! A fire!
 
Anne Pratt
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Okay. One more.
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The Construction Supervisor
The Construction Supervisor
 
Rufus Laggren
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Sent 'm to my sister.

For those moments when her husband and three kids all want to kill the little sh*t at the same time. <g>
gift
 
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
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