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People Living in Harmony With Bears

Helpful information to keep Black Bears free, wild, and alive.
Become Bear Aware.

Black bear color ranges from shades of blonde through cinnamon, brown and black. The only bears in the states of California and Nevada are black bears. There are no grizzly bears left in these states. Black bears are fairly shy animals. They will try to avoid confrontation when given the chance. Always give them an escape route.

Black bears are on a day-long search for food. They follow their noses to seek out easy pickings. Humans have a responsibility to eliminate unnatural foods. Bears are opportunistic foragers and will continue to return to a location where food remains available. When the food is removed, the bears will eventually move on. Black bears do hibernate for a few months during the winter. In the late fall they extend their hours of foraging up to 20 hours a day in preparation for hibernation. This is an effort to put on enough fat to get them through the winter.

Black bears on average weigh around 200 pounds but some adult males can get as big as 500 pounds.

If you see one in the wild, be grateful ...


  • Never feed bears. It's illegal and the fine is $1,000 or 6 months in jail.
  • Always give bears time and space to avoid you.
  • Never run away from a bear as this may trigger in instinct to chase.
  • Stand tall and slowly back away.
  • Bears will sometimes "bluff charge" or "huff & blow" in attempt to drive you away.
  • Black bears climb trees when frightened, and will not climb down if humans or dogs are present.
  • Loud noises made by radios, whistles, pots and pans banged together can scare away bears.
  • Although it is VERY RARE, if attacked by a bear, fight back.


  • Bears are attracted by: garbage, sweet smells, pet food, baby diapers, bird feeders, food odors, lotions, toothpaste, and garden compost. Inspect your property and remove anything that might attract bears.
  • Do not feed pets outside. Keep pet food in airtight containers, in a room closed to the outdoors.
  • Do not leave food and baked goods sitting out near open windows and doors, visible through closed windows.
  • Pour Pine Sol or ammonia into every garbage bag, and rinse out all garbage containers.
  • Use your garbage disposal.
  • Freeze other garbage and put it out ONLY on collection day.
  • Purchase a bear-proof garbage container. Partner with your neighbors to save money on the cost of bear-proofing.
  • Take your garbage home with you if you are a part-time resident of black bear country.
  • Encourage your neighbors to be bear aware.


  • NEVER keep food, toothpaste, candy, gum, etc. in your tent or sleeping bag.
  • Store food in bear-proof food lockers. The trunk of your car is not secure and a poor choice.
  • Clean everything after preparing meals.
  • Use canisters for food when backpacking. "Bear-bagging" only slows down the bear.
  • Do not keep clothes in your tent that smell of food or cooking odors.

When a complaint about a bear is registered about a problem bear that involves a threat to personal safety, or property damage, a depredation permit is issued. A trap is set and ANY bear that enters the trap is destroyed. If it happens to be a mother with cubs, they're all destroyed.

All information about "Bear Awareness" copied with permission. -- -- (530) 525-PAWS