How to Keep a Bear Out of Your House (and What to Do If It Gets In)

Last weekend, a Connecticut man walked into his home after working in the yard and saw a wild black bear living in his kitchen. The landlord, Bill Priest, knew exactly what to do. That’s because the same bear had previously broken into the fridge in his garage in just over a weekend. Although black bear attacks on humans are rare , it’s reasonable that you wouldn’t want one of them roaming your home. But what exactly are you supposed to do if you come home from work one day and see one of those 500-pound creatures stretched out on your futon?

How to protect your home from bears

The best way to get a bear out of a house is to not give it a reason to come into the house. According to the USDA , the only reason bears ever enter a home is to look for food: “Like the famous cartoon character Yoga Bear, black bears will quickly take advantage of food left by humans. Black bears feed on garbage, bird seeds, dog food, and other foods commonly found in homes and businesses.” If you live in bear country, it’s a good idea to buy special trash cans so that the bears can’t smell your garbage. According to a USDA study , areas where bear-resistant bins were installed had 60% fewer bear conflicts compared to those where conventional bins were used.

Additional recommendations from the Colorado Department of Wildlife include keeping a close eye on all entry points to your home. The department writes : “Many bears enter homes through an unlocked or open window or door. Close and lock all windows and doors accessible to bears when you leave the house, and also at night before going to bed. Other important factors include making sure your car is free of any bad odors such as candy, chewing gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms. They also recommend replacing the lever-style exterior doorknobs with round doorknobs that bears can’t pull or push, and turn on the talk radio when you leave the house (a human voice scares most bears).

What to do if you find yourself face to face with a bear

What to do when you come face to face with a bear depends on where exactly the encounter took place . If you see a bear in your yard or driveway, Colorado Parks & Wildlife recommends combating animal noise: “If a bear comes into your yard or close to your home, do yourself and the bear a big favor and scare it away. A confident attitude plus loud noises such as a firm shout, clapping, banging on pots and pans or a horn will get most bears to run.”

If you do encounter a bear in your home, the recommended course of action is quite different. Colorado Parks & Wildlife says, “If a bear enters your home, open the doors and windows and make sure it can leave just as it entered. Do not approach the bear and do not block escape routes.” They also warn you never to approach a bear that has entered your home. If the bear does not leave of its own accord, you should call your local animal control agency. If the bear poses an immediate threat to you or anyone else, call 911.


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