Managing Attractants


Photo by Jayson Plaxico

All bear species have an incredible sense of smell. Consequently, it is important to remember that it is the odor of food items that first lure bears near homes or neighborhoods. If that lure is strong enough, and food is successfully obtained, then bears may very likely make it a habit to visit those types of areas for food. The most successful measures to alleviate human-bear conflicts must, therefore, be proactive and be put into effect before a problem develops.

Bears are powerful animals and they may damage property in their pursuit of human-related foods. By following these simple guidelines for managing attractants you can prevent unnecessary damage. More importantly, you can help stop the cycle of food-conditioned and human-habituated behaviors that bears learn when feeding near human dwellings. And remember that even one person intentionally or unintentionally feeding bears will cause problems for an entire neighborhood. So please, encourage your neighbors to follow these important precautions.



Photo by Dave Huff

Access to garbage annually accounts for approximately 70% of all nuisance complaints received by the KDFWR. As such, garbage is the most abundant and widely distributed attractant available to bears. Following these guidelines will significantly reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts at your residence.

  • Do not store garbage or other potential foods outside as odors will attract bears.
  • Do not leave garbage on a deck or porch, even if it is screened; doing so will only result in a bear on your deck or a torn screen.
  • Do not leave trash in the back of pick-up trucks as commonly results in damage to the vehicle.
  • Put out garbage the day of pick-up, rather than the night before; this will significantly reduce access to food.
  • If garbage must be left outside, store in a sturdy building or in a bear-resistant container.
  • Lobby your local municipal government for the use of bear-resistant containers.

Pet Food


Photo bt KDFWR Personnel

Injuries to pets by black bears are not a common occurrence in Kentucky. The threat is possible, however, and simple precautions can eliminate this unnecessary problem. In fact, almost all pet injuries are the result of bears attempting to obtain pet food, rather than attempt to intentionally harm the pet itself.

  • Store pet food inside or in a solid, enclosed structure.
  • Feed outside pets only enough food for one meal at a time.
  • Do not toss food scraps outside to feed pets; this is a strong lure for bears.
  • Dogs can be a great deterrent for keeping curious bears out of your yard. Keep in mind, however, that aggressive dogs could suffer injury or death if a physical conflict arises.



Photo by Steven Dobey

As is the case with pets, injury or death to livestock is an uncommon occurrence in Kentucky. The potential does exist, however, so we encourage landowners to minimize conflicts by following these guidelines.

  • Store livestock feed inside a sturdy, enclosed structure.
  • If possible, do not store feed in the immediate vicinity of livestock. This is especially true for chicken coops that may be easily entered by a bear.
  • Locate calving grounds away form forest edges, and enclose with electric fencing if possible.
  • Bury or move dead livestock away from living animals as carcasses will attract bears and other predators.



Birdfeeders are often overlooked when it comes to minimizing human-bear conflicts in residential areas. However, these feeders supply an easy food source and provide an easy meal to bears.

  • Store birdfeed inside or in a sturdy, enclosed structure.
  • If you see a bear in your neighborhood, remove birdfeeders for a minimum of 7 days.
  • If you insist on feeding birds, minimize potential damage by hanging birdfeeders on a pulley system at least 8 feet above the ground.
  • Natural foods for songbirds are abundant in the summer months when bears are most active, so removing feeders will have no negative impacts on birds.