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Benton and Polk County residents advised to remove food sources that attract bears



May 9, 2008


Nancy Taylor, ODFW Wildlife Biologist, (541) 757-4186 ext 226, or cell (541) 740-6338
Meg Kenagy, ODFW Communications Coordinator, (503) 947-6021

Corvallis, Ore.―ODFW biologists advise residents in the Kings Valley and Pedee areas of Benton and Polk Counties that a black bear has been reported eating out of residents’ garbage cans.

According to Nancy Taylor, ODFW wildlife biologist, spring often brings an increase in black bear-human interactions in many western Oregon communities. “Much of the problem is caused by people feeding bears—either intentionally or unintentionally,” she said.

While efforts are being made to trap the bear in question, Taylor advises people throughout western Oregon to reduce bear attractants. Bears have a keen sense of smell and will travel long distances to reach an easy food source.

People can help prevent problems from occurring by taking the following actions:

  • Remove all food attractants. Don't leave food unattended. Bears are creatures of habit and will return to spots where they have previously found food.
  • Take in all bird feeders at night, including hummingbird feeders, and sweep up any seed on the ground. In areas where bears are a problem, avoid feeding birds during the summer months.
  • Keep all garbage inside your house or closed garage, and only place it outside just before garbage pick-up.
  • Use bear-resistant garbage cans.
  • If bears have previously ransacked garbage cans, clean cans with hot water and bleach or ammonia to remove odors.
  • Double bag all garbage. Use of ammonia-soaked rags in and around the cans may repel bears.
  • Keep all pet food and livestock feed inside the house or garage.
  • Use three strands of low-cost electric fencing as an easy way to deter bears from fruit trees, compost piles, beehives and garbage cans.
  • Clean up barbecue grills and store them inside.

ODFW generally does not relocate bears habituated to humans because of human safety concerns. Research has shown that relocating troublesome bears does not work. Individual bears have been known to travel long distances to return to their original home range. Even if a relocated bear stays away from its original home range, it often will seek human foods in its new habitat or move to an area where human foods are available. As a result, if ODFW has to trap a bear, the bear will likely be euthanized.

“The old adage is true, a fed bear is a dead bear,” said Taylor. “In the end, it is destructive to feed any bear.”

For more information on living with bears, call a local ODFW office for a copy of the brochure Guidelines for Living with Bears, or visit the ODFW website at

If bears are a problem on your property or exhibit aggressive behavior, call the nearest ODFW office, Oregon State Police office or the Sherriff’s department.



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