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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.
 
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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.



 
master 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.

 
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