What is the best way to get rid of bears on our joint family property? We have tried cleaning the barbecue after every use, never leaving food outside, and using noise-makers. Any other suggestions?—Irene Winter, via e-mail
Those are good anti-bear moves, but you may need to amplify your efforts. Bears aren’t just attracted to cooking smells, garbage, compost, and greasy barbecues; they’ll also go after birdseed, dog food, gasoline, dirty diapers, and other items that you wouldn’t eat even if you were absolutely starving. So make sure these things are stored in odour-proof, wildlife-proof containers (that can’t be knocked over or rolled away). And be super-diligent about your garbage. Freeze meat scraps until trash collection and wash your recyclables.
If you’re experiencing break-ins of the ursine variety, try some anti-bear cottage upgrades: Instead of lever door handles, use knobs; put heavy frames and thick glass on the windows; and don’t keep a fridge in the porch where the bears can smell it (especially if it’s an old one with a leaky door seal). As for deterrents, one option is to surround your cottage with electric fence—the shock isn’t harmful, but it can scare the heck out of a bear.
Unfortunately, for bear-proofing to work, everyone using the family property—and cottagers at neighbouring properties—must be as attentive as you, or the bears will never learn that the buffet is permanently closed.