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Ashland residents: don't give bears a free lunch

May 7, 2024

CENTRAL POINT, Ore – Black bears are roaming Ashland streets looking for an easy meal before fruits and berries ripen. Don't give them a free lunch.

Every spring, hungry bears are drawn into the city by the scent of unsecured garbage, dirty grills, bird feeders and pet food left outside. The bears cause property damage, have broken into homes and sheds, and create human safety issues. This happens again in fall when bears are fattening up to den.

ODFW and the Ashland Police Department (APD) urge residents and visitors to be 'BearWise' and remove these food sources.

Many Ashland residents appreciate and value wildlife. ODFW and APD appeal to them to keep wildlife wild and help carry the BearWise message to their neighbors.

"Bears are smart, learn fast, and have a great memory when it comes to food," said ODFW wildlife biologist Chris Shelton. "They remember where they found food, including trash, and female bears teach their cubs. So now you have another generation of bears that seek unnatural foods and can become a safety risk to people and their pets."

Police Chief Tighe O'Meara agrees.

"We all can take steps to reduce conflicts with urban wildlife. Let's not give bears a reason to come into city limits – remove attractive food sources, use bear resistant garbage cans, and take down bird feeders in spring and fall. Everyone doing their part will help keep people and pets safer and wildlife wild."

>Bears that attack pets or show aggression or loss of wariness around people are a safety risk and are humanely euthanized. ODFW does not relocate habituated bears due to the danger it presents the individual bear, other bears in the release area (bears are highly mobile and often are territorial), or nearby residents or recreationists.

Last year, 44 bear conflict complaints inside city limits were filed including aggressive actions, nuisance behaviors, and loss of wariness around people. Seven of these complaints were human safety concerns. In 2022, ODFW and APD were busy with 161 complaints. Most reports resulted from bears accessing garbage, compost, bird seed and other types of food rewards.

To keep bears and people safe, follow these tips:

  • Never feed bears. Feeding bears, intentionally or unintentionally, will cause them to associate people with food. It is also against the law in Oregon (ORS 496.730).
  • Secure food, garbage, and recycling. Ensure 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 just before pick-up. Thoroughly wash trash cans to reduce smells. 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. Recology Ashland offers bear-resistant cans, call 541-482-1471.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birds have plenty of naturally available food sources during all seasons which is why some species migrate in winter. Bears can be food rewarded from bird seed and suet in feeders leading to habituation and food conditioning, destroyed birdfeeders, and public safety issues.
  • Never leave pet food outdoors. This practice can easily attract bears and other wildlife, putting your pets and wildlife at risk.
  • Clean and store grills after each use.
  • Check your yard before letting pets out at night. Turn a porch light on and use a flashlight to check for bears before letting pets out in the dark
  • Clean up fruit under fruit trees.
  • Alert neighbors and ODFW to unusual bear activity (continued sightings during daylight hours, lack of wariness around people or pets, etc.).

If you encounter a bear:

  • STOP: Never approach a bear at any time for any reason. If you see bear cubs, leave the area.
  • GIVE IT SPACE: Give any bear you encounter a way to escape.
  • STAY CALM: Do not run or make sudden movements. Face the bear and slowly back away.
  • AVOID EYE CONTACT: Don't make eye contact with the bear.
  • DON'T RUN: It may encourage the bear to chase you.
  • FIGHT BACK: In the unlikely event you are attacked, fight back, shout, be aggressive, use rocks, sticks and hands.

Report non-emergency bear activity in Ashland through the city's bear reporting website or by calling ODFW directly at 541-826-8774.

Dial 911 if there is an immediate threat to human health and safety.

For more information on living with bears, click here.

Photo: This black bear was looking for a free meal on a homeowner's deck in Ashland. Residents are asked to clean up food sources that attract hungry bears

Photo: Learn to live responsibly with bears by following these tips from our partners at BearWise


Contact: Chris Shelton, ODFW, 541-857-2405
Ashland Police Department, 541-482-5211
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05/07/2024 2:55 PM:18 AM:19 PM    
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