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Coastal residents and visitors: be BearWise

May 10, 2023

SALEM, Ore. — There is much to look forward to at the Oregon coast with the onset of warmer and sunnier weather - but bears getting into your garbage is not one of them. With spring comes the emergence of black bears from their dens in search of food.

Now is the prime time to look around your property and make sure food sources attractive to bears are secure and inaccessible. If you live along the Oregon coast or own or manage coastal rental property, consider using bear-resistant trash cans.

A bear's strongest sense is smell and everything from trash cans to grill drippings can bring them to your property. Finding your trash spread out across the yard or driveway can certainly ruin your day, but the consequences could be much more severe. If bears become habituated to humans (too comfortable around people) they could pose a serious threat to human safety.

A bear that loses its wariness of people and becomes conditioned to human-provided sources of food may be humanely killed. This is often the only option to protect humans and ultimately to protect the larger bear population from learning the same behavior.

Bears, like all wildlife, have a specialized diet that coincides with seasonal changes. Access to human-provided food can negatively impact their health, lead to conflict with humans and in many cases have fatal consequences.

Bears have a great memory when it comes to food. Not only will they remember where they have found food before, including trash, but female bears will also pass this knowledge down to their young. Intentionally or unintentionally feeding bears can negatively affect multiple generations of bears.

The good news is that most conflict between humans and bears is preventable. Bears don't want to be around humans, but the prospect of an easy meal is often too good to resist. Removing things that attract them to the area is the most important thing you can do to protect people and ensure bears stay wild.

Follow these BearWise tips:

  • Never feed or approach bears. Feeding bears, intentionally or unintentionally, will cause them to associate humans with food. It is also against the law in Oregon (ORS 496.730).
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling. Please ensure that your trash and dumpsters are secure from bears by using commercially available garbage cans, metal bars over dumpsters, fully enclosed trash storage, or by storing garbage inside. Take trash out immediately before pick-up, not the night before. Wash garbage cans with bleach to reduce their smell. Food waste is one of the strongest attractants for black bears and allowing bears access could qualify as illegal feeding if appropriate steps are not taken to prevent the issue.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birds have plenty of naturally available food sources and bears will commonly feed from and destroy birdfeeders.
  • Never leave pet food outdoors. It attracts bears and other wildlife, putting your pets and wildlife at risk.
  • Clean and store grills after each use.
  • Alert neighbors and ODFW to unusual bear activity (continued sightings during daylight hours, lack of wariness around humans or pets, etc.).

Share these tips with your neighbors, friends and family. A community effort is vital to preventing problems with bears. One person who feeds or attracts bears, intentionally or not, can pose a risk to everyone in the neighborhood.

Living responsibly with black bears is possible and it's up to everyone to do their part to keep humans safe and bears wild. Contact your local ODFW office to report unusual bear activity or for information and resources to help prevent conflict with black bears.

Learn more about living with black bears at



North Coast - Beth Quillian,, (503) 947-6008
South Coast – Meghan Dugan,, (541) 464-2179

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