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Hide the Tasty Snacks – It’s Bear Awareness Week

PHOTO: It's Bear Awareness Week. Defenders of Wildlife is offering financial assistance for property owners to install bear-proof electric fencing if grizzlies are active in their neighborhoods. Photo courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife.
PHOTO: It's Bear Awareness Week. Defenders of Wildlife is offering financial assistance for property owners to install bear-proof electric fencing if grizzlies are active in their neighborhoods. Photo courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife.
May 20, 2013

MISSOULA, Mont. - This is Bear Awareness Week (through the 25th). It's also the time of year when bears are waking up and searching for an easy meal.

According to Erin Edge, Rockies and Plains associate for Defenders of Wildlife in Missoula, with the success of grizzly bear recovery, bears are now in areas where they haven't been for decades. So, it means everyone is learning about how they act, and what they like to eat.

"This time of year, what we're seeing grizzly bears eating are glacier lilies, green grass," Edge said. "Green grass is probably one of the bears' favorite foods in the entire world. People don't really think about that, so as they water their lawn, bears come in for that green grass."

She says backyard chickens, small livestock, bee boxes, bird feeders, fallen fruit and compost piles are other temptations, and even if the bears can't get to the sources, they can damage property in the process of trying. Defenders offers property owners financial assistance to install bear-proof electric fencing, which Edge says quickly teaches bears to stay away. (Details on the fence program are at Defenders.org.)

Bear Awareness Week also means being prepared to encounter bears in the wild. Edge described some of the signs.

"Scat, tracks, rolled-over logs, big dug holes," are things to look for, she said. "Bears hear about as well as we do, so if you're along some of these roaring creeks and things, bears may not hear you coming, so make noise."

And for everyone in bear country, Edge advises carrying bear spray.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT