The best hope for grizzly bear recovery is to promote coexistence with the people who live near them. Defenders of Wildlife offers several proactive solutions and educational programs to help prevent conflicts between people and grizzlies that all-too-often result in the death of the bear.
When bears detect easy sources of food, they keep moving until they find it—often in people’s backyards. Garbage that isn’t securely stored, uneaten pet food left outdoors, unsecured chicken coops and even dirty barbecue grills can attract bears into human neighborhoods.
How We’re Helping
In the 1990s, Defenders initiated a coexistence program to promote and fund projects to increase tolerance for the bears, such as installing electric fencing to protect behives, chickens, goats and other hobby livestock. We’ve also helped purchase bear-resistant dumpsters, and we have supported “aversive conditioning” to teach bears to keep their distance from humans. We provide campgrounds with bear-resistant trash cans and install poles or bear-resistant food lockers for hunters, hikers and campers to safely hang or store their food out of reach of bears. All told, we’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on these coexistence efforts for people in grizzly country.
On the education front, we give dozens of educational talks each year and use door hangers in high conflict areas to provide local residents with information on living with bears. We’ve also produced and distributed thousands of copies of Living in Bear Country, a booklet featuring tips for protecting people, property and bears in residential areas.
Where We Are Today
Each coexistence project secures one more attractant that could cause grizzly bears to be killed. Especially in rural areas, these projects can make large areas much more secure for both people and grizzly bears.