Interacting with bears is dangerous and illegal and can result in fatal consequences for the animal involved. Every summer, Departments of Wildlife around the country receive hundreds of calls relating to bears: bears getting in the trash, bears breaking into cars and homes, and complaints of tourists baiting the animals. Many of these problems could be prevented if locals and tourists alike followed some basic rules regarding food and garbage in the summertime.
Bears live in nearly every mountain area in the United States. These bears come out of hibernation each summer, looking to gain some weight after their long nap. The animals cannot resist the smell of food and garbage. Bears will break into cars, homes and destroy trash cans and campsites to find something as small as a candy bar wrapper. That is why it is important for everyone in areas where bears live to handle their trash and food properly.
- Never leave food out for a bear or any other wild animal.
- Do not leave food or food-related garbage in your car. Also, lock your car (but you should be doing that anyway).
- When camping, be sure to properly secure your food and trash to the campground’s specifications. Campsites may ask you to leave if you leave garbage or food out.
- If you live in an area where there are bears, get a bear box or other bear-proof trash can.
- If you encounter a bear, be cool.
Whether intentional or not, feeding a black bear in any capacity can result in a hefty fine and the animal being euthanized. It is against the law in most areas where bears live to store garbage improperly; typically, breaking these ordinances results in a citation and fine. On the bear’s end, some Departments of Wildlife will put down bears that they deem to be problematic (and yes, dumpster diving is enough to be classified as problematic). If those reasons alone aren’t enough, it is also worth mentioning that bears are dangerous animals and can certainly kill you.
Interacting with bears is bad for you and the animals. Although most of the time, bears function as oversized raccoons that knock over your trash can, everyone should avoid the situation altogether by being smart when it comes to your food and garbage in the summertime.