Bears Bothering Your Critters? Successful Strategies To Keep Domesticated Animals Safe

Bear activity in Canada is on the rise. In fact, bear sightings are so common in many areas of Canada that warnings are routinely issued to alert motorists, residents and visitors of the possible danger. While these alerts are useful, they do little to help Canadian farmers, ranchers and homesteaders protect their livestock and property from these determined marauders. This article will give you a few tips to use if you find that bears are bothering your animals. 

Protecting Young Livestock

Spring is when bears are waking up famished after months of depleting their fat stores during hibernation. In addition to hungry adult bears, cubs born over the winter are now venturing out with their mothers for the first time and learning to forage. Spring is also the time when domesticated livestock give birth and the resulting scents of blood, milk and tender flesh can cause bears to drop their normal wariness and approach barns, corrals and pastures that they might otherwise avoid.

While healthy adult cows and other domesticated animals can usually escape harm, keeping bears away from young or fragile livestock requires a multi-pronged approach that includes the following actions:

  • pen animals that are close to delivering near barns or residences where they can be easily observed and protected 
  • patrol the pastures and outlying animal pens daily and bury any bodily fluids, blood and tissue associated with animal births that could attract the interest of bears
  • pen any animal that appears to have suffered an injury that could cause a bear to target them, such as open wounds or lameness
  • install electrified fencing around pastures, corrals or barns where bear activity has become a problem to discourage further interest

Properly Store Known Attractants

Because bears are voracious eaters who enjoy a wide range of different foods, farms and ranches that store feed and supplements or grow certain types of plants and crops often prove to be irresistible. Especially problematic are animal feeds or crops that have a high natural or added sugar content. Animal feeds that contain molasses are highly palatable to bears, but bears can also be attracted to feeds that contain corn or corn by-products because of the natural sugar content. To keep bears away from these foods, take steps to seal them tightly to reduce their scent and store them inside securely fenced and gated areas or behind electrified fencing.

Farms and homesteads that grow berries or produce honey often experience worrisome visits from bears in their area. Not only will bears eat the berries and the honey, their sheer size and weight causes them to do significant damage to berry bushes and wreck beehives as they clumsily try to access the honey. Just as livestock producers use electric fencing to protect young animals and feed from bears, berry farmers and honey producers can also use it to repel bears and cause them to look for less painful areas to forage. 

Rogue Bears

While taking steps to keep enticing foods and scents contained and using electric fencing and vigilance to keep your property safe from bears works well most of the time, occasionally a rogue bear will move into an area. Rogue bears are usually ones that have a prior history of causing problems with humans, such as killing livestock and pets or damaging property. Because these bears have become accustomed to humans, they lack the natural fear that makes most of them shy away from human contact. 

Controlling a rogue bear requires professional assistance, such as that provided by a wildlife control specialist. In some cases, the problem bear may be able to be trapped and moved to a remote area where there is less chance of human interaction. If that is not possible, the bear may need to be humanely disposed of to make the area safe for humans and domestic animals. If you believe you are dealing with a rogue bear, or any bear that does not attempt to avoid contact with humans or domesticated animals, contact a local wildlife control specialist in your area for immediate assistance.  

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