Experts offers ways to discourage black bears from becoming nuisance

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Black bears in Wisconsin have exited hibernation and are now on the lookout for food. The bounce back from hibernation is slow, so they are looking for vegetables and nuts.

“They need to get the green grasses and stuff to stimulate their system,” Wisconsin Black Bear Education Center owner Jeff Traska said.

The bears are constantly on the lookout for easy-to-digest, low-profile foods. A popular option during the spring and summer months is bird feeders. Bears will climb or tear into anything that’s easily accessible.

“Bears love them this time of year. If you have any debris on the ground from the winter, rake that up and make sure it’s thrown in the garbage,” Traska said.

Just like humans, bears are attracted to the smell of barbecue. Keeping grills clean can help keep unwanted visitors from popping in.

“Leave the grill running for a long period of time so you can chip it off. Any of that smell, these bears can smell that for miles,” Traska said.

If a bear makes its way to your property, scaring it off is a smart move if you’re a safe distance away. If a bear is not scared off, it might keep returning to the same spot for food.

“Clap your hands, take some garbage can covers and pound them together. The animal needs to feel uncomfortable being around you, now he’ll go back to the woods where he’s supposed to be,” Traska said.

If you spot a bear in the woods, Traska says not to run away, and make sure they know you’re there.

“Hiking in a backwoods or on a trail, clap every once in a while and let them know you’re there. If you see one make yourself look big and yell, hold your ground and the bear will retreat,” Traska said.

If none of the above steps have proven effective or if bears are demonstrating abnormally bold behavior, contact USDA-Wildlife Services to conduct an investigation. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates there are 24,000 bears in the state. With the majority living in northern Wisconsin.

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