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Bears- problem is the solution???

 
pollinator
Posts: 226
Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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Since this is a permaculture forum, I want to explore some permaculture solutions for black bear ' problems'   I know of many solutions based on fight, struggle, and force.  Eating black bears seems to turn the problem into the solution for many people, but I think I'm not alone in having personal/ religious reasons for not doing that myself.  I also would rather move somewhere else than remove all my fruit trees.  So apart from eating them, or repelling them with electric fences, dogs, etc.  (worthwhile options but covered extensively elsewhere!) does anyone have any truly creative ideas about turning the problem into the solution?  The only baby steps I've made in this myself are welcoming their scat as fertilizer, and also accepting their 'pest control services'- they eat the ground nesting hornet's nests.   (I learned how to safely and non-lethally remove and relocate the hanging hornet nests, but have been relieved of the ground nests nonviolently only by letting the bears do the violence for me-  I'm amazed they will dig right in and eat the babies in those nests, oblivous to the stings, but they do-  I'm talking about dolichovespula here, when I say 'hornets'. )  I'm not opposed to losing some fruit, also, but not all of it, and the real problem is not the presence of bears in itself but the potential for a bear to become habituated, destructive, or dangerous to people and pets.  So can anyone offer helpful and creative ideas, which depart from the narrative of  "shoot it or move back to Kansas, hippie" (an idea which may or may not also have its merits, but has also been extensively elaborated elsewhere)
 
pollinator
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I'm wondering how many bears you have to deal with. One or just a few or a lot? I'm also wondering how many hornets nests you have to deal with. A few or a lot? Mostly if we leave nature to do her thing, it all stays within some balance that prevents us to have to deal with problematic excess. Are these problems a real excess or are they bearable (haha, pardon the pun)...  The main thing is if we are dealing with a problem or just with our natural surroundings?
 
Corey Schmidt
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Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska (usda zone 6, ahs heat zone 1, lat 59 N, coastal, koppen Dfc)
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That's a really good question, Rene.  I wouldn't be surprised if you have had similar things to think about in your location- snakes, bugs, capybaras, feral hippopotamuses? ...  Most people in my community were having 2-3 bear sightings per day, with some property damage- mostly trees broken, but also a greenhouse torn open, one rental apartment was broken into and totally trashed (likely the bear felt trapped inside). And one bear was following a person. The most bears in 40 years or more, according to some. Then humans killed 20 or so (legally) and there are less, but still many around. Hornets are all over the place and I mostly don't mind them or bother them as they are helpful in many ways and totally docile until you touch their nest, but I have relocated them from my construction projects so i can work without getting stung and also for a neighbor who had a large nest under the deck and was afraid they would kill someone (it was either relocate them myself or someone else would spray them....)
My question stems from an exploration of safety, property, personal goals, and ethics. I am brainstorming ways to, by  design, avoid problems arising from our sharing an ecosystem with bears.  I would like to see people still growing and harvesting apples and berries without being fearful of being mauled, and I would like to see less bears shot.  statistically bears getting shot is astronomically more common than people getting mauled, but it does happen and no one wants it to happen to them or their family. Many solutions have been elaborated; they mostly involve repelling, blocking, or destroying the bears.  I am wondering if there is a creative way to make these powerhouses work for or with us; to get more symbiotic... maybe there's a genius idea out there...I haven't thought of one yet, thus the question.  
 
pollinator
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Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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Abundance?
Plant more, in hopes they can't eat it all? (and hope your place doesn't become bear Mecca)
Maybe plant more, but not in your zone 1... maybe out beyond your zone 5... or somewhere wild to lure them elsewhere? (not suggesting trespass or planting closer to someone else, although if someone else's hunting reduced the local bear population for you...)

I honestly know very little about bears.
 
Corey Schmidt
pollinator
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:Abundance?
Plant more, in hopes they can't eat it all? (and hope your place doesn't become bear Mecca)
Maybe plant more, but not in your zone 1... maybe out beyond your zone 5... or somewhere wild to lure them elsewhere? (not suggesting trespass or planting closer to someone else, although if someone else's hunting reduced the local bear population for you...)

I honestly know very little about bears.


Yes I think there could be something to the diversion strategy.   And it seems my neighbors who like to eat bears have reduced the bear pressure.  
 
gardener
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Have you seen the going rate for a nice bear roast or ground bear burger?  

https://www.elkusa.com/Bear_meat.html


Filets and tenderloin are going for $90 a pound.  Bear t-bone, rib-eye or NY steaks: $57 a pound.  Even ground bear (hamburger) goes for $24 a pound.

The going price for a black bear rug: about $2000 for a small one, $3K for a good-sized one.

https://www.bearskin-rugs.com/black-bear-rugs-c-63.html


When life gives you lemons, learn to tan bear hides.  And then get all value-added and start making authentic bear fur mittens, bear chili, bear tooth necklaces, bear jerky . . . the possibilities are endless.  All those tourists disembarking off their cruise ship in Fairbanks, Anchorage and elsewhere NEED something authentically Alaskan to spend their silly money on.  You'd be doing them a favor to sell them a slightly overpriced but totally authentic bear skin hat.

You're sitting on a gold mine --- you've just got to find a way to dig it out of the ground (or as the case may be, to turn it into ground . . . meat).
 
pollinator
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Is this a seasonal (short period of time) or daily issue?

If simply seasonal, a few weeks in fall type scenario where they are attracted to the fruit trees full of ripe fruit; early harvesting might solve the issue. No food, no attractant, no bears.

There is also the option (albeit illegal and/or risky) of providing an alternate food source away from the fruit trees. Perhaps the collection of windfall fruit, in a pile, away from the orchard? Or roadkill, or other food that would negate the need to raid the trees?

Other options could be motion activated alarms or lights or water cannon (Scarecrow is one) that would frighten them off; or at the very least notify you so you could fire cracker shots, rubber bullets or other non lethal projectiles as a deterrent.
 
gardener
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In my experience, bears don’t care... they are just huge dummies with big claws and powerful jaws wandering around looking for an easy meal. They aren’t particularly a problem, nor are they particularly a solution. They just are. They eat plants. They eat insects. They eat live animals. They eat dead animals. They’ll eat plastic if it smells right. They don’t really seek out any particular food, except the easy food. Food humans grow is usually easy food.

I guess my opinion is that clever solutions aren’t really needed. Bears are big, dumb, and easily repelled. If a food source gets difficult to get to, they look elsewhere. It really doesn’t take much of a fence to stop them. Or a dog, or a donkey, or a goose — pretty much anything that makes a loud noise will make them turn away. Even a bright light is usually enough to get them to turn away. In more wild environments, it only takes a stray sound. They’re masters of calorie maximization. They want to expend as few calories as possible to gain weight. Turn that formula against their favor and they’ll look somewhere else.
 
pollinator
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AS I see it, humans moved into bear country.
Maybe they need to move out and stay away.
Bears were there first.
 
pollinator
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Unless we're talking about the Moon or Mars there is nowhere that any living creature can go that didn't have something else living there before.  Humans displaced kangaroos and crocodiles from plenty of parts of Australia too .

The question here isn't so much whether humans should live in bear country, but rather how to manage the relationship.  After all, saying people can't live in [insert creature of choice here] territory because said creature was there first would mean there's essentially nowhere for humans to live.  That management of the relationship can range on the extremes from extirpation to complete non-interference with the bears and whatever they want to do.  Or somewhere in between, which is the most likely.

Predators learn manners when hunted themselves.  That goes for humans as much as for bears, cougars, etc.  Whatever is hunting a given predator generally results in a desire to avoid the territory of said hunter, and fosters a tendency to evade that hunter when encountered.  So some level hunting of the bears where the OP lives can serve to minimize the likelihood of negative interactions for most of the people there.

But there is also a lot that people can do to keep things peaceful with the bears.  Not feeding them (whether intentionally by piling up windfalls, or accidentally by leaving garbage out) goes a long way.  Good fences make good neighbors, whether those neighbors are other humans or bears.  Might require a pretty stout charger for hot wires to keep the bears out, but it is an effective way to keep them off your land.  
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Thanks Andrew, I was wondering why some communities have bear problems and others dont.
Here Kangaroos are in many places ,but we dont have many killer roos, they are more in the heavier bushlands.

Is it possible that some communities have a more disciplined approach to bears by ensuring rubbish bins are not accessible,
and good fencing and animal shedding.

Do some people spend more money on beer than on adequate fencing etc?

Thinking laterally improvements may include'
- electronic locks on garbage bins that are activated by the truck when it comes to pickup
- Improved education about stronger aanimal shelter etc.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Communities that keep garbage inaccessible to bears, and maintain good fencing tend to have few problems.  Some degree of hunting bears also helps a lot.

I'm sure there are bears not too far from where I live.  But between them being hunted, and relatively little in the way of easy access to normally preferred foods, they just don't come around.  I have chickens, and unlocked garbage bins, and until very recently no dog or fencing.  And never seen a bear in the neighborhood in 10 years.  Coyotes, bobcats, and smaller predators like racoons are commonplace though.  

I'll readily grant that the OP lives in an area with a much higher density of bears.  If we had that kind of bear population we would likely have put up fencing much sooner, and would keep garbage bins locked up until the morning the truck came to collect.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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John Daley hit the nail on the head. More often than not bear problems are caused by a community (in general) that are not (as we call it here) Bear Aware.

Bears can smell food something like 20 miles away. Many communities here only have "issues" on garbage pick up day. Carelessness with garbage, fallen fruit etc., within the community at large is often the biggest issue.

Although I don't feel carelessness is the issue with the original poster; it is possible there could be an issue within the greater community.

Where I am, we try to deal with the issue with Bear Aware campaigns - and fines for those who are repeat offenders to the posted requirements in their area. One of the slogans: A Fed Bear is a DEAD bear. Once they become habituated and lose their fear of humans,  they are considered "dangerous" and put down.

In a sparsely populated or rural area, most likely they are seeking food, this time of year,  to bulk up for winter hibernation. They will avail themselves of ANY high calorie foods, be it fruit, salmon, dogfood, birdseed, or grain for fowl. Eliminating access will usually eliminate the bear issue.
 
Corey Schmidt
pollinator
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The original question was intended to elicit creative responses 'outside the box', rather than 'this is how you do it', as I feel all the normal ideas about living with bears have been expounded to a high degree elsewhere.  I think my community is quite 'bear aware'.  Being accessible by boat or floatplane only, we have no 'garbage collection' and I know of no one who deals with their 'garbage' in any way other than keeping it inside their house or locked building until it is hauled to 'town', and limiting attraction to bears is a consideration in every undertaking- people talk about it almost as much as they talk about what kind of toilet they have (outhouses are almost universally preferred). We are used to having a few bears roaming around over the course of the summer, but this year there were more than in the last 40, according to some.  Many hypotheses have been posited- a few good wild berry years leading to a population expansion, a cold winter leading to a higher survival rate due to the bears not dying of being wet, a bad berry year this year, causing the bears to roam more widely in search of food, possible brown bear incursion into black bear territory pushing the blacks down to the coast, and no tourists this year giving the bears a much more peaceful situation to explore... There was no chance for windfall this year; it was a low fruit set year (a friend observed birds plucking apple flowers), and what little there was was harvested green by the bears.  I don't doubt that our exotic fruits, including the 'ornamental' mountain ash, are attracting bears, though it doesn't account for the sudden influx this year. They usually come to eat wild devil's club berries, and even seem to prefer these over the domestic offerings. I have read that some communities have dealt with bear issues in part by creating social pressure against any kind of fruit growing, and wouldn't like to see our community go in that direction.  For now, my neighbors have shot enough bears that incidents have again become rare, and winter is approaching.  Since my personal expenses for alcohol (and, believe it or not, cannabis) for the past 15+ years amount to $0.00,  I may take some of the money I saved and invest in a 2 or 3 joule electric fence system.  But I will continue to be open to 'bright ideas' that can lead to a more symbiotic existence with the bears, whom I love, respect, and fear.  The kind of ideas that make me feel like I'm shirtless, in tight fitting tie-dye pants, riding a she-bear 'bearback' over a rainbow and a glacier, into the sunset, her cubs dashing alongside us, under the light of the full moon and northern lights, while slurping a vegan fruit puree, locally grown and fully organic, harvested by hand at the peak of ripeness according to the biodynamic calendar etc. etc.
 
John C Daley
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Bear aware, I like that title.
It seems weird that bears get themselves into trouble because the very people who are upset by bear activity are often the people contributing to the problem.
Lets hope people think about that.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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It sounds like the bears overpopulated the area and stressed the carrying capacity.  In times of unusually good fruit production that is one thing, but get a poor year and then famine results.  If the neighbors hadn't shot some of the bears most likely many more would have died of starvation over the winter.  

That electric fence is going to do a lot to keep the bears out of your property, at least the areas you want them excluded from.   Obviously you can just fence a portion of the land, and leave some for the bears to use too.
 
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I heard that coffee grounds are supposed to repel them. Not 100%, of course, but it is supposed to work "for the most part". I guess for the most part means "unless they are super hungry" or something like that. Also Sue Aikens (from "Life Below Zero") mentioned it somewhen. It is worth a try, I guess. Coffee grounds also have lots and lots of other uses, so dont throw it away!
 
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Corey Schmidt wrote:The original question was intended to elicit creative responses 'outside the box', rather than 'this is how you do it', as I feel all the normal ideas about living with bears have been expounded to a high degree elsewhere.



I think we all get that that's what you're looking for but, after dealing with bears for hundreds of thousands of years as hunters and for thousands of years as farmers,  I think there's a reason we use the methods we use to deter bears; they work and have been time-tested.  Often it's not productive to try to re-invent the wheel.  I don't mean to be negative, just realistic.  

Do you have any ideas yourself?  What kind of 'outside the box' solutions have you tried and what were the results?  What have your neighbours said about bear management?

Edit:  I think it's great to try to work with nature instead of against it, which is what you're doing.  Even if something you've used hasn't worked out, you may be able to modify it and add another deterrent.  I think the best strategy with bears is to not let them know what goodies you've got if possible and making the rest hard to get to.  We've got bears here, not as many as you, but they seem to do well on their own, so they don't seem to be much of an issue.  All it takes, though, is one bear who thinks he wants what you have and then you've got a bear problem.  I haven't seen any bears right around my property but I think that the moose may be acting as a deterrent as they love hanging around in the woods.  
 
gardener
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Honestly, even living down the road from where problem bears are relocated, i never dealt with bear issues. Why? We burnt our garbage (not an environmentally sound solution!!!), washed plastics, cans, etc before putting it outside to bring to the recycling depot,  Or hauled it to the dump regularly, and had dogs around. The only time we ever saw a bear in our yard was when the last dog was old and no longer roaming- a young bear sauntered down the drive, and our old dog and cat (!) warned it off.  People were spread out enough that there was no NEED for the bear to pass through our yard, though i occasionally saw bear sign in the woods. When i walked, i usually had the dogs, and chatted with them, or would whistle or have a set of bear bells in higher risk seasons. People in the area hunted and ate bear too, which controlled the population as well.

At work - i have been to many remote sites and have been around all 3 species of Canadian bear. The only one we had bear issues in was one where they had an open dump site instead of an incinerator with tall fences. Even there, the only time i was ever at risk was when i was moving garbage to my truck(bears smelled it, and came into the building because the door was open!!!) or dropping it off at the dump (i accidentally hit a bear that i didnt see in the head with it when i threw it). I carried bear spray in the woods, never used it, did not leave food or garbage in the vehicle, and travelled with another person. We did have one black bear stalk us for a bit, but he seemed more curious than anything, and left when someone honked a horn. I also once walked without noticing within 100 m of a grizzly and her two cubs sleeping in the grass - she was habituated to humans being noisy nuisances but not sources of food due to strict garbage and bear protocols, and didnt even watch me walk past.

For me, the most environmentally sound bear control measures are the prosaic ones - clean your garbage, have a couple large dogs around, be loud so they hear you coming, and eat them when the population gets too large, or if they start becoming problem bears.

(Oh, except for polar bears, which are bloody scary, very smart, and DEFINITELY think of humans as prey. Heard way too many "polar bear lay there for days before attacking" stories to like polar bears).
 
Corey Schmidt
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Timothy Markus wrote:

Corey Schmidt wrote:The original question was intended to elicit creative responses 'outside the box', rather than 'this is how you do it', as I feel all the normal ideas about living with bears have been expounded to a high degree elsewhere.



I think we all get that that's what you're looking for but, after dealing with bears for hundreds of thousands of years as hunters and for thousands of years as farmers,  I think there's a reason we use the methods we use to deter bears; they work and have been time-tested.  Often it's not productive to try to re-invent the wheel.  I don't mean to be negative, just realistic.  

Do you have any ideas yourself?  What kind of 'outside the box' solutions have you tried and what were the results?  What have your neighbours said about bear management?

Edit:  I think it's great to try to work with nature instead of against it, which is what you're doing.  Even if something you've used hasn't worked out, you may be able to modify it and add another deterrent.  I think the best strategy with bears is to not let them know what goodies you've got if possible and making the rest hard to get to.  We've got bears here, not as many as you, but they seem to do well on their own, so they don't seem to be much of an issue.  All it takes, though, is one bear who thinks he wants what you have and then you've got a bear problem.  I haven't seen any bears right around my property but I think that the moose may be acting as a deterrent as they love hanging around in the woods.  



good point about time tested methods.  I suppose I'm 'asking for the moon'.  I haven't yet had any truly creative ideas about the bears to try myself.  Just the obvious like minimizing attractants.  I did use ammonia before, and don't know if it worked; maybe the bears stayed away from that situation for other reasons.  Neighbors are surprised at the sudden influx.  I wonder if there are any good ideas from our thousands of years as farmers that have been largely forgotten.  Before guns but after apple trees...  Examples of creative solutions in other areas are the guy who used squirrels to harvest nuts for him, and my idea to relocate hornet's nests, refined over the last 2 summers.
We are lucky to almost never have moose here, I guess the topography discourages them.  I think they are more dangerous to life and garden than bears, though not as feared b/c their teeth aren't pointy.
 
Corey Schmidt
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Thank you to all for your responses, both supportive and challenging.  This thread has motivated me to go back to a thorough study of all the conventional approaches to bear risk management, because creative ideas are born of thorough knowledge of a topic.  I am studying all the info at bearsmart.com as a starting place.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Canadian sources of information on this topic, as they are based on research and practicality and come from a compassionate point of view that values bears intrinsically as well as human aims and activities.
 
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I live in an area with many bears in town.  Most houses dont have garages or anywhere to lock up / put away trash.  I've had bears in my yard, eating bird feed.  Yelling and running at one made it go away.  I have never had one in my garbage, but the neighbors have.  I have house cats and put the litter in the garbage.  Coincidence? I dont think so.  

Perhaps I should sell packets as anti-bear additive.



Sandy
 
Corey Schmidt
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S Smithsson wrote:I live in an area with many bears in town.  Most houses dont have garages or anywhere to lock up / put away trash.  I've had bears in my yard, eating bird feed.  Yelling and running at one made it go away.  I have never had one in my garbage, but the neighbors have.  I have house cats and put the litter in the garbage.  Coincidence? I dont think so.  

Perhaps I should sell packets as anti-bear additive.



Sandy



This is very interesting.  This thread or a different one had a post that linked to a website selling wolf urine as a bear deterrent.  I'm thinking house cat litter should be easier to obtain.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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NOTE: Just how do companies secure "predator urine" such as wolf?

I can only assume it is similar to the procedure used to collect "Pregnant Mare Urine" aka Premarin, by keeping them contained and catheterized to collect said urine. I, personally, have ethical issues with this....

Honey, aloe, or an aloe/honey combo beneath the plastic cling film would be an excellent alternative to actual burn cream.
 
Corey Schmidt
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:NOTE: Just how do companies secure "predator urine" such as wolf?

I can only assume it is similar to the procedure used to collect "Pregnant Mare Urine" aka Premarin, by keeping them contained and catheterized to collect said urine. I, personally, have ethical issues with this....

Honey, aloe, or an aloe/honey combo beneath the plastic cling film would be an excellent alternative to actual burn cream.



Here is the link to the page where they tell how they get the urine   https://www.predatorpeestore.com/How-Do-We-Collect-The-Pee-.html
they claim its from the drains in enclosures.


I like to pull out comfrey stalks and crush them to make an instant hand lotion for any kind of injury.  I haven't tried it for heat burns, but it should work for that too.  Putting a catheter in an animal to collect its urine does not sound nice.
 
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Corey, invest in a couple Jack Russell terriers. These little buggers are fearless and fast as lightning. They will run off any bear that dares come into "their yard"...I've seen these little guys back-down Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Predator Urine: not so sure I buy their collection story. For it to be true, they would have to be kept in small cages, with concrete, grate or metal floors. No natural substrate, no room to roam and engage in normal, healthy behaviors, no trees, etc.

As one who works with wildlife, at times confining them for extended periods. The goal is always as large an enclosure, and as natural an environment as possible, while they recover for release. We use concrete floors with drains, and there would be no logical way to collect urine from these drains, that I can think of - unless they were confined to a very small enclosure, specifically designed for urine collection - in my opinion.
 
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S Smithsson wrote:I have never had one in my garbage, but the neighbors have.  I have house cats and put the litter in the garbage.  Coincidence? I dont think so.  


Hmm, well I'm not sure about that. Dogs think cat poop is candy (ew), and will sift through ammonia-ridden cat litter to get at it. I can't imagine bears would think differently -- maybe they just haven't figured it out yet.
 
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One bright side is how many native plants germinate best in bear scat. It is used in several National Park restoration programs. I am assuming you are talking both black and brown/grizzly bears where you are so I would not mess around with too many experiments, but I have heard from Mike Mcgrath on the You bet your garden podcast that a motion activated talk radio (More obnoxious the tone the better) can be worth trying. I’d really consider electric fence with multiple LGDs if you really want to keep fruit trees, which are essentially feeding making them problem bears. In the long run I might try the Mollison described fruit tree embedded into blackberry thickets method.
 
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Corey,  I must admit I didn't read the last handful of replies.  We are neighbors!  I'm 18 miles East of Homer (by road).

I've had no bear encounters on my homestead in the past 4 years which I suspect is due to a long history of the neighbors shooting anything with teeth (not relevant to your issue).  I use polywire electric fence to protect my delicious pastured ducks, chickens, and sheep.  So far its confirmed to deter dogs and my belief is it would deter bear.  I know electric fence is not the creative answer you were looking for but wait...there's more!

Did you know that you can get 50% of your electric fence cost reimbursed up to $500 in Alaska?
The Defenders of Wildlife have an Electric Fence Incentive Program.
LINK TO "GOT GRIZZLIES"
check it out - note it looks to only be advertised for 2020 as of now, so maybe move quick if you decided to take that route.

I rotationally graze a small pasture so I have a perimeter fence which is 5 strands of poly wire held on tposts with plastic clips, and inside the fence my flocks are each inside of an "electronet" that I bought years ago from Premier1 fencing (who's alaska shipping costs are insane - I got mine while living in Oregon).  I use a solar fence charger for the moving electronets and a stationary charger hanging from a tpost covered with a 5 gal bucket for the perimeter.  I owned all of my equipment before knowing about the Defenders of Wildlife program so haven't gone through their funding process myself.

One of the age old after apple trees but before guns methods was to have outdoor dogs working in packs.  

Best of luck.
 
Corey Schmidt
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C West wrote:Corey,  I must admit I didn't read the last handful of replies.  We are neighbors!  I'm 18 miles East of Homer (by road).

I've had no bear encounters on my homestead in the past 4 years which I suspect is due to a long history of the neighbors shooting anything with teeth (not relevant to your issue).  I use polywire electric fence to protect my delicious pastured ducks, chickens, and sheep.  So far its confirmed to deter dogs and my belief is it would deter bear.  I know electric fence is not the creative answer you were looking for but wait...there's more!

Did you know that you can get 50% of your electric fence cost reimbursed up to $500 in Alaska?
The Defenders of Wildlife have an Electric Fence Incentive Program.
LINK TO "GOT GRIZZLIES"
check it out - note it looks to only be advertised for 2020 as of now, so maybe move quick if you decided to take that route.

I rotationally graze a small pasture so I have a perimeter fence which is 5 strands of poly wire held on tposts with plastic clips, and inside the fence my flocks are each inside of an "electronet" that I bought years ago from Premier1 fencing (who's alaska shipping costs are insane - I got mine while living in Oregon).  I use a solar fence charger for the moving electronets and a stationary charger hanging from a tpost covered with a 5 gal bucket for the perimeter.  I owned all of my equipment before knowing about the Defenders of Wildlife program so haven't gone through their funding process myself.

One of the age old after apple trees but before guns methods was to have outdoor dogs working in packs.  

Best of luck.



Thanks for your post!  That is great info about the electric fence incentive as I'm planning on setting one up so by the time my trees are bearing they don't contribute to bears becoming 'anthropogenic food conditioned'.  So you've probably just saved me some money! I've been studying bearsmart.com and particularly a pdf guide I found there titled "responding to human-black bear conflicts: a guide to non-lethal bear management techniques" and the idea of training black bears to 'stay out of trouble' is satisfying my hunger for a creative non-violent solution, and it seems electric fencing can play a big role in this. My dream that inspired this thread would be that they not only leave my trees alone but also somehow do some free labor for me, if they happen to be in the neighborhood...  But I will be really happy if I can just get achieve the first part of that and not contribute to them getting shot by providing them with an easy meal.  My neighbors have some things in common with yours it seems, so I don't expect to see many bears here next year, at least.   We are also lucky in a way to only have black bears here, no grizzlies for many years.  Thanks again and all the best to you.
 
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https://www.bearstudy.org/website/publications/published-papers.html
 
Corey Schmidt
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Thank you, Echo!  that link is a real gold mine.  I was not aware of the work of Lynn Rogers, and I'm quite impressed.
 
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Ideally, all persons could follow all the Bear Aware protocols to a T, eliminating attractants as well as fencing and dogs (both of which should have government incentives, along with mandatory and provided proper training for the dogs) on their private homesteads... and then there is this idea of a bigger community-wide approach...

(insert fantasy fairy tail music here)
Super ideally, in a fictitious world without regulations (or with more, perhaps, enlightened regulations) and with a community orchard (instead of everyone having fruit trees on their private holdings), a large community-wide compost could be created outside the orchard's fenced area with waste fruit piled on and in it, that would attract the bears that would otherwise be attracted to human habitats anyway.  The compost area would have a few fenced areas so that people could access at least one of the compost piles to add materials or re-build the piles safely while the bears feed at another one where the gate is open to them.  These bears would effectively turn the compost for you (the solution to reducing the labor of a huge community compost pile) and at the same time, allow for culling in one spot, eliminating stray bullets and providing the permitted hunters with their harvest.    Stands would be created so that the hunters would not be at any risk.  A bear market could be created where permitted hunters could choose to sell their meat (rather than using the meat themselves), as well as tanned hides, teeth, bone tools in ancient styles, (and other things that Marco's post gets into, all of which could be marketed elsewhere as well), and this would give the towns-people collective rewards (cash for local infrastructure and a more controlled bear situation) for living in intense bear country (which I also live in---Had a griz in my garden with me this year!).  The permit process would allow the situation to be controlled to prohibit overharvest of the bears, and people would still obviously be allowed to cull a threatening bear that was on their property (but this would be largely eliminated because the 'problem' would be concentrated in one, much safer location that has become the solution.
 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Ideally, all persons could follow all the Bear Aware protocols to a T, eliminating attractants as well as fencing and dogs (both of which should have government incentives, along with mandatory and provided proper training for the dogs) on their private homesteads... and then there is this idea of a bigger community-wide approach...

(insert fantasy fairy tail music here)
Super ideally, in a fictitious world without regulations (or with more, perhaps, enlightened regulations) and with a community orchard (instead of everyone having fruit trees on their private holdings), a large community-wide compost could be created outside the orchard's fenced area with waste fruit piled on and in it, that would attract the bears that would otherwise be attracted to human habitats anyway.  The compost area would have a few fenced areas so that people could access at least one of the compost piles to add materials or re-build the piles safely while the bears feed at another one where the gate is open to them.  These bears would effectively turn the compost for you (the solution to reducing the labor of a huge community compost pile) and at the same time, allow for culling in one spot, eliminating stray bullets and providing the permitted hunters with their harvest.    Stands would be created so that the hunters would not be at any risk.  A bear market could be created where permitted hunters could choose to sell their meat (rather than using the meat themselves), as well as tanned hides, teeth, bone tools in ancient styles, (and other things that Marco's post gets into, all of which could be marketed elsewhere as well), and this would give the towns-people collective rewards (cash for local infrastructure and a more controlled bear situation) for living in intense bear country (which I also live in---Had a griz in my garden with me this year!).  The permit process would allow the situation to be controlled to prohibit overharvest of the bears, and people would still obviously be allowed to cull a threatening bear that was on their property (but this would be largely eliminated because the 'problem' would be concentrated in one, much safer location that has become the solution.



That seems like a lot of dead bears for a fantasy. Granted my dreams might be similar if I had to share a garden with a grizzly.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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That seems like a lot of dead bears for a fantasy. Granted my dreams might be similar if I had to share a garden with a grizzly.

 Let me clarify my own stance before I add clarity to the 'fantasy'.  I grew up a bush kid in fear of bears, and now I have come to respect them with a zeal that has gotten me in trouble with neighbors who shoot them to defend their calves, not because they don't have a right to defend their livestock but they do so preemptively, and I have little tolerance for speculation when it comes to killing something because it might pose a problem.  

I have eaten bear, but it took me a long time in my life to get around to the idea of being comfortable with it. The respect that I have for them goes deep.  I speak to them when I see them in terms of honor, and I call them cousin so that I'm immediately showing my fraternal affiliation to them.  And that is what I did when that Grizzley's head popped up not 30 feet from me over top of the weeds when I dumped a pail into my wheelbarrow.  I then backed up with my weeding tool and my big steel wheelbarrow to bang it on to startle the bear if necessary.  And then turned and wheeled away glancing over my shoulder occasionally while not making direct eye contact (with Grizzly's this is important, while with black bears it is more important to be more direct), went to my compost pile to dump the weeds as if nothing had happened.  But I did not go back to work, I slowly went about leaving the garden area, and a friend who I hadn't seen in a couple of years happened to drive up the driveway and took a couple of photos of the bear.  

I've seen one when I was a child at my grandfather's friend's house.  The man was a trapper and hunter.  I used to make card houses on a huge head-on grizzly fur rug in the living room of his gorgeous handmade log cabin, while my grandfather and he drank whisky, played cards, and smoked. But I digress.  The bear I was bringing up was a different grizzly, beheaded and skinned out and hanging on a meathook suspended off a winch off of a beam extended out of the shop in the yard to cure.  It muscles looked, in my mind, like a gigantic man without skin or head or hands, or feet, and that was the impression that I had (that they were like men) but also, for the longest time that they were unpredictable and dangerous.  They are the latter as well, but certainly, no more than men are.  They have personalities as we do and some are pricks, but I guarantee that the majority of bad apples were human-caused, through idiots with bear bangers, bear spray, rifles, or whatever who did not have the diplomacy to know when not to use those, and when it was appropriate.  I grew to respect them more and more, and spend more time alone hiking and wandering the untracked wildlands, and people would ask me "do you carry a gun?"  and "What about bears?"  I can honestly say to you now as I answered them then, that I felt far more danger walking into my hometown bar than I ever do walking in the woods, even when I encounter a bear.

Now to come back to your post, Nick Neufeld: The bears are dying anyway out of their nature, and how it involves them in human situations.  Maybe I shouldn't have inserted fantasy music there, because this situation does indeed need a better design, a permacultural one.  It sounds like most people in Corey's community are trying their best to be bear aware and the same with where I live, but shit happens in spite of this-every frigging year.  A bear harvesting area and a market do not mean that they are indiscriminately taken (and the permitted allotment would be restricted to ensure this), a mother (sow) with cubs, for instance, would be left to feed and go about her other business, a young boar might not be so lucky, but he might-It would depend on the population in the area and the degree that they are giving trouble as individuals and as a population.  If the bears are habituated to having only this one spot within the human habitat area that does provide them abundant food when they need it, rather than searching it out in people's yards, then I think that is a huge positive change.  There is no questioning that in some locations, as in the case of our original poster, we see that there is sometimes a glut in a population for a number of factors.  In that case, more bears would need to be harvested that year, so more permits would be issued,or a local officer in charge of the project would do the whole job, and the community would get together to process the animals so that nothing goes to waste.  

Now I'll give you a really spooky true story:  In one remote coastal indigenous village, I heard that when a critical salmon run failed the abundant grizzlies (which usually keep to themselves) went right into the homes of the people, opening the freezers and breaking into the canning jars in the pantries (because there was salmon there from other salmon runs, and also meat from hunting). Seattle Times article about Grizzlies killed at River's Inlet, BC   Those people have great respect for the bears and generally wish them no ill, but If I remember correctly 9 of these magnificent animals were killed in the span of a week right in the small village and three were tranquilized and airlifted out of the area, and by the end of the winter I think it was 15 dead and most of the animals were wasted.  I'm sure it was spiritually devastating and demoralizing to have to kill those bears.  You should have heard the uproar in the Eco-warrior community when that hit the news.  I know, because I was living in Vancouver and was entrenched in it.  These urban ecologists are clueless about a situation like that, but having grown up in serious bear country, I did have a clue as to what that situation was actually like.  You can't have grizzlies busting open doors, and ripping their way through the wall and entering houses.  Once they get a habit like that, they would be a constant and unstoppable danger, and the relationship of that community with the bears would be altered forever.  Can you blame the bears or the people for any of that?-I say neither, except that humans (not these particular humans) were likely responsible for the failed salmon run through bad policies in the departments of commercial fishing and forestry (again, shitty design-need permacultural solution).  

As far as bear control goes, here's what currently happens where I live:  You have a problem bear, then you call the CO ('conservation' officer), and there is one of these guys (there are very few) and he lives 2.5 hours away and his email and voicemail are crammed full with similar situations over a vast area, but most of them (and most of the ones which are dealt with) are in the urban areas (where the CO is located and where people are more careless with compost, fruit trees, and garbage).  So people out in the hinterlands are more likely to (and are generally prepared to) take matters into their own hands to either do the job themselves or call someone who can and will.  Most of these bears are NOT utilized but are wasted, not because people would not like to see at least their meat and fur being put to good use, but because they simply don't have the time, energy, or whatever, in their lives to deal with that much work (a grizzly is a huge animal).  Having a bear market, and people employed to work at it, would solve some of this, and much less would be wasted.

In a fantasy world we would be able to talk to bears and come to an understanding.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Roberto: there is SO much I love about your post (being a wet Coaster is no hindrance, either) with the exception of the "food court" for bears; my fear being, as you stated, how far away food can be scented by a bear. Initially you could, theoretically attract those JUST in the vicinity, but ten years in, it would like like any river with a salmon run, or rural dump. The KNOWLEDGE of this food source would be embedded in any bear/offspring for hundreds of miles. These bears would still need to transit THROUGH the neighborhood to access the compost facility, and culling aside, the exponential increase could become a negative.

I, too would feel FAR safer encountering a bear, than entering a bar! Have always said the only thing that causes me fear in the bush is coming across a random TWO legged mammal!

I also speak to the animals I encounter. They may not "speak english" but they DO understand body language and tone. The words are simply a way to define that state of mind for myself.

I also adhere to this protocol when dealing with potentially carnivorous animals...

Bear: treat like that obnoxious uncle you deal with at family gatherings. Be respectful, don't cause a scene; gently and decisively VACATE the area.

Cougar: treat like that obnoxious teenage bully we all remember. Get big, aggressive, "in its face" so to speak. This is a great time to channel ALL that angst from past human altercations; use every curse word you know (they ARE very empowering) and NEVER back down or turn your back.

In both cases, NEVER run. IF either approaches, stand your ground, and hope it is a bluff; IF it is the one in a million, TRUE attack, FIGHT, and go for the eyes. Accept there will be damage, and focus on survival rather than not being harmed. In almost all cases, a human who fights will bewilder the animal and cause it to seek less combative prey.

The Bear Aware programs are the only logical way forward, long term, particularly long term, in my opinion. The truth is, this is a people problem, NOT an animal problem, in my opinion.

 
Corey Schmidt
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Reading through the Lynn Rogers links above communicating with and coming to an understanding with bears seems a bit less of a fantasy and more of a potential reality.  There is also a paper in the links above posted by Echo that was a study of a diversionary feeding program, and it worked well with black bears.
He also claimed in another paper that 1 black bear in 950,000 kills someone vs 1 person in about 18,000.  I assume this is a per year statistic.  
and on a side note, I looked into the Defenders electric fence incentive program, and its legitimate for my area and some others down south, and I got on the list, I will just need to send receipts and photos of the fence and get reimbursed for half.  I'm at the stage of choosing a battery powered charger.
 
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