Feeding bears is the worst thing that people can do when it comes to creating human-bear conflicts. Bears are extremely intelligent and quickly learn to associate people with food. When this occurs, bears may become habituated to people and lose their natural fear of humans, which creates potentially dangerous situations. Keep in mind the following notes if you see people feeding bears:
- Food-conditioned bears live considerably shorter lives than wild bears.
- Habituated bears are often killed by poachers or struck by vehicles because they frequent residential areas.
- Conditioned bears increasingly rely on human-related foods.
- These bears often cause property damage as a result of being taught to feed in neighborhoods.
- Feeding a bear even one time can create a pattern of nuisance behavior in that animal.
- Nuisance behaviors learned as a cub will often stay with that bear for life.
- Direct or indirect feeding of black bears is illegal in Kentucky!
It is important to remember that bears are powerful animals and their behavior can be unpredictable. As such, bears habituated to humans can pose public safety concerns and often need to be destroyed as relocation is not a responsible management action. Immediately report any instances of people feeding bears to the KDFWR by calling 1-800-25ALERT (1-800-252-5378).
Realize that one person feeding bears will create a problem animal that may affect multiple neighborhoods. Be responsible and help us keep bears wild in Kentucky!