Quick! There’s a bear in your yard. What do you do? You should not panic. Chances are the bear is more afraid of you and is just looking for food. From late spring till summer’s plant harvest starts to come in, bears have to look harder for food. As well, with Stafford’s proximity to two rivers and the forest of Marine Corps Base Quantico, our area makes a nice place for bears to live. The best way to learn to co-exist with bears is to utilize some best practices in your yard like securing trash cans and feeding pets inside your home. Once bears realize the buffet in your yard is closed, they will move on.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has established bear guidelines that promote public safety, protect property and conserve bear populations. Whenever possible, DWR’s approach to managing problem bears encourages the coexistence of bears and humans. See the tips below from DWR.
Is that a bear in my yard?
No, you are not seeing things. With shrinking habitat and less forest in which to hide, bears are being forced out into the open to search for food and a place to sleep. There have been recent sightings of bears around Stafford County. If you see a bear, it is important to watch it from afar. Bears have a natural distrust of humans and will run when given a safe escape route.
Why is that bear in my yard and how can I prevent it from visiting?
Most likely, the bear is there for food. Bears are highly adaptable, intelligent animals who can easily learn to associate human dwellings with food. Most problems caused by bears are typically “people problems.” The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, beehives and pet foods. Grills, livestock feeds and compost can also attract bears. What can you do?
- Remove bird feeders from April – November
- Store garbage in a bear-resistant container
- Pick up pet food
- Do not put meat scraps in the compost pile
- Pick up ripe fruit from fruit trees
- Clean the grill often
- Install electric fencing to protect beehives, dumpsters, gardens, compost or other food sources
Typically, if a bear comes by your home a couple of times and finds no food, it will move on.
Who You Gonna Call?
You can call the Department of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Conflict Helpline at (855) 571-9003. They can help you with options on dealing with bears. As well, more information can be found at www.dsr.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear or www.bearwise.org.
If there is immediate danger to people or pets call Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 658 4400 and request help from Animal Control.