An unwelcome visitor: This bear returned several times after finding a birdfeeder filled with seed.
In bear country, these large mammals can cause extensive damage to gardens and landscapes in search of food. Generally found in rural, forested habitat, these intelligent, curious and adaptable creatures are being seen more frequently in residential areas throughout the country. This may be due to increases in both human and bear populations as well as habitat fragmentation. In addition, disruptions in bears' natural food sources, such as scarcity caused by drought, may cause bears to wander into suburban landscapes in search of food.
Bears will munch berries, sweet corn and melon plantings and will destroy beehives to reach the honey. They tend to feed at dawn and dusk and can do a remarkable amount of damage in a short time. They also pose a danger to people and pets.
People often inadvertently lure bears into their landscapes with food — or just the scent of food. Garbage cans, compost piles, birdfeeders, barbecue grills, campfires and pet food dishes are irresistible to hungry bears, and once a bear finds a food source it will return again and again, looking for more food. Sadly, a bear that becomes accustomed to human habitats may be hit by a car, or it may be labeled a "nuisance" and subsequently relocated or destroyed. It's in everyone's best interest — including the bears' — to discourage human/bear interactions and keep bears in their wild habitat.
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