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West Heights Community Elementary
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Bear Aware

Bear Safety

Residential Areas

Minimize odors and the availibility of food throughout your yard and community.

  1. Put out garbage on the day of pick-up, not the night before. Store in sturdy building or place in a bear-resistant trash receptacle.
  2. Do not leave put food out. Hang bird feeders out of reach of bears.
  3. Store livestock/pet feed inside a sturdy building.
  4. Keep barbeques clean and grease free.
  5. Pick all ripe fruit from the tree and surrounding ground as soon as possible.
  6. Vegetable gardens and compost piles may attract bears. Do not put meat, fish or other pungent scraps in compost pile. Add lime to reduce odors and accelerate decomposition.

* An electric fence is an effective way to keep bears out of orchards, gardens, compost piles and beehives. Follow appropriate safety precautions.

Please Don't Feed Bears

  • Bears should never obtain human food, pet/livestock feeds or garbage. Bears that receive these 'food rewards' may become aggressive towards humans or cause property damage. To protect people and their property, these bears may have to be destroyed.
  • Wild bears have a natural fear of humans and will attempt to avoid people and developed areas; fed bears do not!
  • Wild bears fed along roads tend to stay near the road, increasing vehicle-animal accidents.

Black Bear Encounters

  • If a black bear is visible, but not close, change your route so that you will move away from its area.
  • If a black bear approaches, do not run. Remain calm, continue facing the bear and slowly back away. If the bear continues to approach, try to group together and pick up small children. Try to scare the bear away by shouting and acting aggressively.
  • If a black bear attacks, it is suggested to fight back using everything in your power - fists, sticks, rocks and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray.

* Bear activity may intensify in spring when bears are hungry and emerging form their dens, in the fall when bears are bulking up for hibernation, and during drought periods. This is due to the scarcity of natural foods.

Black Bears at a Glance

  • Colors: Black, brown, blond or cinnamon.
  • Size: Adults measure about 3 feet at shoulders and 5 to 6 feet when standing upright.
  • Weight: Adults weigh 125 to 425 pounds. Males are generally larger than females.
  • Lifespan: Approximately 20 years for wild bears.
  • Eyesight: Similar to humans.
  • Sense of Smell: Excellent, can span miles.
  • Attributes: Very agile, climb trees well, good swimmers, and can run as fast as 35 mph.

Healthy wild black bears rely on berries, insects, vegetation, fish and carrion to survive. They hibernate primarily due to lack of food, usually between November and April, though this varies. Healthy mothers produce 1 to 2 cubs every 2-3 years. To learn more go to