What to Do If You See a Black Bear in Your Yard (9 Tips)

If you ever find yourself face-to-face with a black bear in your yard, it’s important to know how to handle the situation safely and effectively. Black bears, while generally less aggressive than other bear species, can still pose a danger to you, your family, and your pets. In this article, you will find nine helpful tips on what to do if you see a black bear in your yard. From securing your trash cans to deterring bears with certain scents, these tips will help you keep the bears away and ensure the safety of your home and loved ones.

Removing Food Sources

Black bears are attracted to yards that provide easy access to food sources. By removing these food sources, you can greatly reduce the chances of a bear visiting your yard. Here are some effective ways to accomplish this:

Invest in bear-proof trash cans

Trash cans are a common attractant for bears. The scent of food waste can easily lure them into your yard. Investing in bear-proof trash cans can help prevent bears from accessing the contents. These specialized trash cans are designed with reinforced lids and locks to deter bears from getting inside. Keeping your trash cans in a locked building, such as a shed or garage, can also be effective in keeping bears away.

Compost Piles

If you have a compost pile in your yard, it’s important to take steps to prevent bears from accessing it. Bears are attracted to the smell of decaying organic matter, especially if it contains fruit or other food scraps. One option is to enclose your compost pile with a sturdy fence or enclosure that bears cannot breach. Alternatively, you can move your compost pile to a location on your property that is far away from your home, reducing the chances of bears being attracted to it.

Keep your grill clean

Grills can also be a source of food for bears. The scent of food that falls to the bottom or is left crusted on the grill can attract bears to your yard. To deter bears, it’s important to clean your grill thoroughly after each use and burn off any leftover food. Keeping your grill covered when not in use can also help prevent bears from smelling tempting leftovers.

Keep pet food up

Leaving pet food outside can attract not only bears but also other wildlife. To avoid attracting bears, it’s best to bring pet food inside in the evenings or when not in use. This will help prevent bears from associating your yard with a potential food source. It’s also important to secure any outdoor pet feeding areas to prevent bears from accessing the food.

Bird feeders

While bird feeders can bring joy to your yard by attracting a variety of bird species, they can also attract bears. If you’re experiencing bear activity in your yard, it’s best to remove or relocate bird feeders. Placing bird feeders far away from your home or using feeders that are elevated and difficult for bears to reach can help reduce the chances of attracting them.

No fruit trees

Bears have a strong affinity for fruit, so having fruit trees in your yard can attract them. If you’re dealing with bear issues, it may be necessary to remove or relocate any fruit trees or bushes. If that’s not possible, consider taking measures to deter bears from accessing the fruit, such as using wildlife netting or electric fencing.

Scents to deter black bears

Certain scents can serve as deterrents to black bears. Ammonia, pine essential oil, apple cider vinegar, Lysol, and pinesol are some scents that have been known to discourage bears from approaching homes and trash. Use these scents strategically by applying them around the perimeter of your yard or near potential food sources to deter bears from coming close.

By implementing these measures, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of bears being attracted to your yard in search of food.

What to Do If You See a Black Bear in Your Yard (9 Tips)

Protecting Animals and Property

Aside from removing food sources, it’s also important to take steps to protect your animals and property from bears. Here are some measures you can take:

Protecting your animals and bees

If you have small animals like chickens or are a beekeeper, it’s crucial to keep them safe from bears. One effective way to ensure their safety is to keep them in a secure shelter, preferably one that bears cannot access. If that’s not possible, electric fences can be an effective deterrent for bears. Electric fences are especially effective in protecting beehives from bear attacks.

Close off areas a bear could hide in during the winter months

During the winter months, bears look for safe and secluded areas to den and rest. It’s important to close off any spaces around your property where bears could potentially hide, such as under decks or patios. Securing these areas will help minimize the chances of bears using your property as a winter haven.

Clean up

Keeping your yard clean and free of any potential bear attractants is essential. Always clean up after eating outside, ensuring that no food or leftovers are left around your home. This includes properly storing and disposing of any food waste, such as fruit peels or scraps. By regularly cleaning your yard, you can greatly reduce the chances of bears being attracted to it.

By taking these proactive measures, you can protect both your animals and property from potential bear encounters.

What to Do If You See a Black Bear in Your Yard (9 Tips)

Safety Measures

While it’s important to take steps to deter bears and protect your property, it’s equally vital to understand how to react if you encounter a bear. Here are some important safety measures to keep in mind:

Things you should NEVER do around a black bear

If you come across a black bear in your yard or in the wild, there are certain actions you should never take. It’s important to remember that black bears, while usually not aggressive unless provoked, are wild animals and should be treated with caution. Never approach a bear, as this can potentially trigger defensive behavior. Running from a bear is also not advised, as bears are faster than humans and can easily outrun them. Climbing a tree to escape a bear is also not a recommended course of action, as bears are skilled climbers. Instead, it’s best to calmly and slowly back away from the bear while speaking to it softly.

If you encounter a bear

In the event that you find yourself in close proximity to a black bear, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your safety. First, speak to the bear softly and calmly. This will help alert the bear to your presence and may cause it to retreat. Slowly back away from the bear, maintaining eye contact if possible. If the bear starts to approach or you feel threatened, make loud noises using whatever objects you have at your disposal, such as pots and pans or an air horn. This may help intimidate the bear and discourage it from coming closer. If the bear continues to approach, do your best to make yourself look as large as possible by raising your arms and standing on your tiptoes. This can help deter the bear from coming any closer.

In areas where black bears are frequently active, it may be wise to carry bear spray for added protection. Bear spray is a specialized form of pepper spray designed to deter aggressive bears. However, it should only be used as a last resort and in situations where your safety is directly threatened.

By following these safety measures, you can minimize the chances of a potentially dangerous encounter with a black bear. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and always prioritize your safety.

What to Do If You See a Black Bear in Your Yard (9 Tips)


In conclusion, taking proactive measures to remove food sources and protect animals and property can greatly reduce the chances of black bears visiting your yard. By investing in bear-proof trash cans, properly managing compost piles, keeping grills clean, and securing pet food, you can deter bears from being attracted to your property. Moreover, taking steps to protect your animals and property, such as using electric fences and closing off potential bear hideouts, can further minimize the risk of bear encounters. It’s also crucial to be aware of safety measures and never approach or provoke a black bear. By following these guidelines, you can create a bear-resistant environment and ensure the safety of both yourself and the wildlife around you.

What to Do If You See a Black Bear in Your Yard (9 Tips)

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