Summer is here so it's time for a bear awareness refresher!
Don't encourage bears to take the easy way out and eat human food. If a bear finds easily obtainable food and/or food trash, the animal will continue to return until the food source is gone. A bear may check back for several days in a row (sometimes up to a week), and if the food is absent, the bear will move on.
These are common mistakes made by humans living in or visiting a forest/urban interface area such as Mammoth Lakes:
Household garbage't disposed of properly. Take trash straight to the provided trash receptacles where you live or are staying. Follow all property management trash rules posted for that location or written in a lease. Homeowners in Mammoth who are responsible for disposing of their own trash need to make regular trips to the transfer station, or store trash properly for pickup. The containers should be tightly sealed and kept inside. Regularly spraying ammonia based household cleaners inside cans or bins are also a proven deterrent to bears as well as raccoons and coyotes.
Food is not properly secured at campsites. State and local laws require that the bear boxes in each site be properly used. Ice chests cannot be left out in the open when unattended. In the backcountry, canisters are required.
Food or empty wrappers/containers are left in vehicles. Bears will open car doors or tear through soft tops to get to what smells like food. Considerable damage is often done to cars in the process.
Pet food is left out on porches or decks. Clean up after your dog or cat eats, or better yet, feed your animals inside. Store extra food in airtight containers. If food is kept in a garage or other outside storage area, make sure the container is sealed and the storage area/garage door is closed.
Bird feeders are not properly hung or cleaned up around. Seed, fruit and suet are all natural bear foods. It sends the bears a mixed message to put out things they are supposed to eat and then punishing them for trying to do so. Avian biologists suggest providing only fresh water in the summer months when bears are active. A birdbath will attract just as many birds as feeders. Save the feeding for the snowy months when the birds really need help and the bears are denned up. If you insist on feeding, hang the feeders out on wires so they are away from trees, posts, the house, or anything a bear can climb on to get to them. Feed only seed and clean up the spills daily. Many people have success with attaching a trash can lid, tray, or other similar object to the bottom of the feeder to keep the spills from hitting the ground.
Call Steve Searles at 760.937.BEAR for bear questions or problems.