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Living with Black Bears

It is that time of the season again where we are seeing more bears roaming our streets.  The city contacted Lemays - Grays Harbor,  seeking information regarding bear resistant trash containers. They are aware there is a need for special containers and is working on being able to provide bear resistant trash containers in the future.  At this time no other information is available.

It was recommended to place a rag soaked with disinfectant, such as Lysol, on top of your current trash container. The smell helps deter bears.

More about Scent Deterrents

A bear’s nose is 100 times more sensitive than a human’s. If you find bleach or ammonia fumes unpleasant, you can imagine what they smell like to a bear. Bleach or ammonia based cleaners are good for trash cans and other areas where strong scents could attract bears. Some people have had some success with covered buckets or other containers filled with bleach or ammonia, with holes punched in the lids to let the scent out, placed outside bear-accessible doors and windows. Bears also dislike the strong scent of pine-based cleaners, but avoid using anything with a fresh, lemony or fruity smell. And never mix bleach and ammonia; the combination produces fumes that can be deadly to both people and bears.

Warning: Ammonia Can Blind Bears

Some sources recommend ammonia-filled balloons covered with honey or peanut butter as a deterrent; theoretically when the bear tries to bite the balloon, it gets a face full of ammonia instead of a treat. But an eyeful of ammonia or bleach is more than a deterrent – it can seriously injure or blind a bear.

More about bears
American black bears are the most common and widely distributed bears in North America. In Washington, black bears live in a diverse array of forested habitats, from coastal rainforests to the dry woodlands of the Cascades’ eastern slopes. In general, black bears are strongly associated with forest cover, but they do occasionally use relatively open country, such as clearcuts and the fringes of other open habitat.

The statewide black bear population in Washington likely ranges between 25,000 and 30,000 animals. As human populations encroach on bear habitat, people and bears have greater chances of encountering each other. Bears usually avoid people, but when they do come into close proximity of each other, the bear’s strength and surprising speed make it potentially dangerous. Most confrontations with bears are the result of a surprise encounter at close range. All bears should be given plenty of respect and room to retreat without feeling threatened.

What do bears love to eat?
Bears aren’t out to cause problems. Black bears are very smart and super-resourceful, and will do their best to take advantage of all the easy-to-get at calories we make available:

  • Accessible garbage and trash
  • Bird seed, suet, hummingbird feeders
  • Fruit trees, gardens, natural food sources
  • Chickens and small livestock
  • Pet food, horse and livestock feed
  • Barbecue grills, coolers, outdoor refrigerators
  • Scented personal care products, scented
  • candles, air fresheners  

Additional information can be found at the following links:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  

 "Bears are starting their annual feeding frenzy. Here’s what you should know." Blog by Kitty Block is President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, the international affiliate of the HSUS.