Today there is only a little trash on the hillside, and it is old, the cans are rusty and the paper faded. Peterson asks the station manager if he’s seen any bears and the man says no. The station now has two large bins with metal doors that lock with bear-proof carabiners.
“It’s a simple solution, isn’t it? Peterson said and laughed, because it wasn’t. A worker used to put up a weak three-strand electric fence every evening. The bears put him aside. Originally, trash can doors were made of plastic. “When they first installed the metal doors, they were covered in footprints. The bears were crazy.
Tonight, on each of the three doors of a trash can is a single muddy footprint. Attracted by the smell of garbage, a lone bear passed by here. But the bear could not enter. Instead of getting used to eating at the transfer station, he went looking elsewhere.
“Remove the food source, remove the problem,” says Peterson.
This is what coexistence looks like. It does not require hunting. “Shooting a random bear in the woods isn’t going to stop the human-bear conflict,” says Hagio. Instead, it requires people to take responsibility. It’s a matter of human adaptation. And the bears stay alive.
Advice for living together
Here’s how people can keep bears and themselves safe: by removing human food that attracts bears, discouraging bears from approaching people, and avoiding chance encounters with bears.
Waste and recyclable materials: Store in locked bear-proof trash cans or in a locked garage or shed. Freeze leftover meat or fish until garbage collection day.
Compost: Store in bear proof containers or secure with an electric fence.
Poultry houses and beehives: Protect with an electric fence.
Pets: Feed pets indoors and store their food indoors.
Grills: Clean well after each use.
Fruit trees: Quickly harvest ripe fruit.
Bird feeders: Feed birds only in winter when natural food is scarce (and bears are hibernating).
Houses and garages: Keep doors and windows closed and locked or locked in place with an opening too small for bears. Do not vent cooking odors outside.
Visiting bears: Hunt black bears by shouting or throwing sticks, rocks or tennis balls.
Camping: Store food in bear-proof containers or hang it out of reach. Dispose of trash in bear-resistant trash cans. Clean grills and tables.
Trek: Bring bear spray, hike with a buddy, and make some noise as you go. Leave the dogs on a leash or, better yet, leave them at home.