Be Prepared: Bears Waking from Hibernation

Release Date: March 03, 2022
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Bears can smell garbage from 20 miles away. This month, bears will start to wake from hibernation in the Pacific Northwest, and according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), most confrontations with bears are the result of attractants like garbage and bird feeders. The number one reason for calls to the WDFW is the result of access to trash, pet food, bird feeders, and improper storage of food while camping. Bears may opportunistically seek food in human-occupied areas when natural foods are scarce. 


Please follow these important and helpful tips from WDFW:

Manage your garbage. Bears will expend a great amount of time and energy digging under, breaking down, or crawling over barriers to get food, including garbage. Make sure to put garbage bins out shortly before the garbage truck arrives—not the night before. If you’re leaving several days before pickup, consider taking your garbage to a recycling and transfer station or asking a neighbor to take your garbage bins out on garbage day. If necessary, frequently haul your garbage to a dumpsite to avoid odors.

Keep garbage bins in a shed, garage, or fenced area. Spray garbage cans and dumpsters regularly with disinfectants to reduce odors. Keep fish parts and meat waste in your freezer until they can be disposed of properly.

Don’t feed bears. Often people leave food out for bears so they can take pictures of them or show them to visiting friends. Over 90 percent of human-bear conflicts result from bears being conditioned to associate food with humans. A wild bear can become permanently food-conditioned after only one handout experience. The unintended reality is that these bears will likely die, being killed by someone protecting their property, or by a wildlife manager having to remove a potentially dangerous bear.