A Local's Guide to Avoiding Bears in Your Back Yard

Black Bear - Click for more information The following list is by no means exhaustive and we welcome your input with additions to this list.  

Keeping Animals Wild is Everyone's Responsibility!

Bears can be attracted into townsites and yards by a variety of attractants. As a local, it is our responsibility to reduce the likelihood of bears being drawn to our neighbourhood by taking an active role in reducing a variety of natural and human related enticements. However, it is not illegal to leave bird feeders filled when bears may be feeding, or to do other things which may attract wild animals to your back yard. At the same time, a neighbour that keeps a bird feeder out of season endangers everyone living in the community. A bear attracted by a feeder may end up injuring someone. If you have a neighbour that is not considering the safety of the bears and the community, try talking to them. If you don't feel comfortable, than why not leave them a note. Click here to view a bear warning that you can print out to leave at your neighbour's house

Garbage Disposal

Make sure that you do not store garbage outside or in your vehicle. Pickup truck toppers are not bear proof, and we must remember that it is the smells that draw the bears to a specific location.

Compost Heaps

Many mountain dwellers are also very ecologically minded, and compost can be a critical part of waste reduction plans. At the same time, it is important to limit what we place in our compost heaps. Avoid placing any meat by-products such as fish, meat, bones, egg shells, dairy products or fruit into your compost. Adding some lime to your compost can also speed up the decomposition and reduce the smell.


There's nothing like a summer barbeque on the patio. The smell of a juicy steak can permeate the air and attract much more than envious glances from non-barbequing neighbours. These same smells can attract Master Bruin to your deck once you head to bed. When you're finished your feast, make sure to burn the food off of the grill, or at least clean the barbeque carefully. Also, if you store your barbeque outside, be sure to use a cover as this will reduce the smell emanating from it. Keeping your patio door closed when cooking indoors also helps to reduce the smell of food in the air.

Bird Feeders

In the Mountain Parks, bird feeders have played a very serious role in attracting bears into townsites like Banff and Canmore. There is no legitimate reason to have feeders up in summer as there are plenty of natural foods available at that time. If you must have a bird feeder, be sure to wait until late November before filling it with seed, and don't forget to take it down before the bears come out in spring, usually by early March. 

Also, be sure not to store your bird seed outside either. 

Plants Known to Attract Bears

Before you buy a new shrub or tree for your backyard landscaping project, make sure you are not just buying a plant that may attract bears to your yard. The following list of plants are known to attract bears and should be avoided:

Berries and Fruits

Bearberry, Alpine
Bearberry, Common
Bilberry, Dwarf
Bilberry, Tall
Bog Cranberry
Cherry, Choke
Cherry, Pin
Cranberry, Low-bush
Current, Wild
Dogwood, Red-osier
Gooseberry, Wild
Mountain ash
Raspberry, Wild Red
Strawberry, Wild

 Grass and Grass-like Plants

Brome, Northern Awnless
Tufted Hair Grass

Herbs and others

Cow Parsnip
Horsetail, Common or Field
Sorrel, Mountain
Vetchling, Pea Vine
Vetch, Wild

All Material Ward Cameron 2005