The birds are back, the bees are humming, and for some country-bound vacationers and homeowners, bears may have started sniffing around your yard for an easy meal.
Before you get too excited, bears aren’t the vicious creatures recent films (ahem, “Cocaine Bear”) make them out to be. And they aren’t interested in eating you, per se.
But these wild animals are opportunists perpetually on the hunt for easy access to people-food. And a bad encounter with a bear can be extremely dangerous—especially for families and pets caught unaware.
So what can you do to keep the local bear population out of your yard this season? We spoke to several wildlife experts to find out why bears venture close to houses and how you can mitigate the problem to avoid any unwanted encounters.
Here are six ways to keep you and your family bear-safe this summer.
Secure your trash
To keep bears away from your property this summer, do this: Secure. Your. Trash.
“Trash left out is the No. 1 cause of unwanted interactions with bears,” says Priscilla Feral of Friends of Animals. “Keep trash in a secure garage or shed until the morning of pickup.”
So while it might be tempting to put trash barrels out the evening before an early morning pickup, that’s leaving a whole night of potential feasting for the local bear population.
Another thing you can do to cut down on the stinky allure of your garbage is to start composting.