Living Safely With Bears in the Blackfoot

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent conflicts with bears. Containing potential attractants at your property is key to ensuring bears don’t become habituated visitors. Your participation will help ensure the safety of your family and your community.



Having bear spray (and knowing how to use it!) is one of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe while out-and-about in bear country.



Store all food-related waste inside a secure building, closed trailer, or bear resistant container. Open garbage pits are not recommended and burn barrels should be ventilated to ensure a thorough burn. If you don’t have the option to keep your garbage indoors, we recommend contacting your garbage management company about acquiring a bear resistant garbage can. Depending on circumstances and availability, the Blackfoot Challenge has a few bear resistant containers to loan out. Contact us to inquire about availability.



Store pet food indoors or inside locked metal containers. Food left out for barn cats or in dog kennels should be in areas inaccessible to bears.



Hang bird feeders only in the winter (Dec 1-April 1) or with a catch plate 10 ft. high and 4 ft. out from pole/tree well away from your house. Feeders (even when empty) should not be in the yard area or on the porch.



Grain and pellets are very appetizing to a bear – once they get a taste of it, they will do anything to find it, including breaking into structures or vehicles. Do not place salt and mineral blocks near homes. When not in use, store them inside a secure building, behind an electric fence, or in locked steel containers.


Pick the fruit once it’s ripe and don’t let rotting fruit accumulate under trees (even crabapples!). Consider removing natural stands of serviceberry and chokecherry near your home.


Clean after each use and store inside a secure building between uses.


Avoid blood meal and fish fertilizer. Electric fences around gardens and compost piles will keep bears and other wildlife out as well. Bears will excavate compost for kitchen scraps and they love to eat worms.
Jack Rich w bear-resistant garbage can_Seth Wilson
Using an Electric Fence

Electric fences are a simple and effective tool to secure attractants. Best of all, bears will go out of their way to avoid it. One of the best ways to keep bears away from your home is to put up an electric fence around the entire premises, including gardens, orchards, and even lawns (quite often bears will approach houses under the cover of darkness to graze on green lawns, especially during the drier months). These fences can be installed in such a manner that will not allow people or children to be shocked from the inside. Electric fence is also a great tool to protect vulnerable animals such as rabbits, pigs, sheep, goats, and free-ranging chickens.

Going away for a while?

Bear-proof your summer home when you leave for extended periods or out-buildings where attractants are stored.  Consider placing sturdy shutters and doors and strong door bolts on your cabins, sheds, barns, outbuildings, and garages.

Information compiled in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. For more information on how to be safe in bear country, visit their Bear Aware webpage.

Chicken coop with an electric fence around it