Need Training?

Click the image

National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Black Bear Control

Supplemental Information  Brown bear profile picture by ICWDM

Scientific Name: Ursus americanus



  • Diet: omnivorous, eating almost anything from berries, corn, acorns, beechnuts, or even grass to table scraps, carrion, honey and insects.

    Intelligent and curious:

    Size: Adults usually weigh from 200 to 600 pounds, with rare individuals weighing up to 800 pounds. An adult male normally weighs more than an adult female, sometimes twice as much.

    Activity: Bears may be on the move at anytime, but they're usually most active during evening and morning hours.


Toe Pad Marks on Hind Feet 5 (sometimes 4)

Heel Pad Marks Hindfeet: 7 to 9 inches (180-230 mm) long and 5 inches (125 mm) wide

bear rear paw print by ICWDMSize of Front Feet 4 inches (100mm

Claw Marks Occasionally

Hindprints look human-like.

Stride length of 1 (300 mm) to 3 feet (900 mm).


Voluminous. Not uncommong for scats to be 4 inches in width.








Bear Damage

Bear tree scrape by National Wildlife Research Center

Bear scrape on tree Photo Credits: USDA-Nat'l Wildlife Research Center

  • Beehives,
  • garbage dumps, trash cans,
  • bird feeders,
  • kill livestock,
  • trees,
  • trample crops, and
  • occasionally kill humans.


Bear Damage Control

Habitat Modification

  • Remove food sources--bears have tremendous caloric needs. They will raid bird feeders, trash cans, even break into homes and vehicles in search of food. Problems can be severe when wild food sources become scarce.
  • Electric fences have proven effective in protecting beehives.



  • Hazing--efficacy of rubber bullets are being investigated.
  • Capscaisin spray.


  • Bears are usually hunted with the assistance of dogs.



Toxicants & Fumigants

  • None available


Bears are considered game animals and/or protected species throughout their range.

Disease & Safety

  • Blackbear attacks, though rare, do occur.
  • Grizzly bears are more aggressive and a much greater threat to human health and safety.

Living with Bears

  • NY Dept. of Environment & Conservation Tips
  • P.A. Game Commission Tips
    • Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels or deer, may attract bears. Reconsider putting squash, pumpkins, corn stalks or other Halloween or holiday decorations outside that also may attract bears. Even bird feeders can become "bear magnets." Tips for how to safely feed birds for those in prime bear areas include: restrict feeding season to when bears den, which is primarily from late November through late March; avoid foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night; or suspend feeders from high crosswires.
    • Keep it clean. Don't place garbage outside until pick-up day; don't throw table scraps out back for animals to eat; don't add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and thoroughly clean your barbecue grill after every use. If you feed pets outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.
    • Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. If the bear won't leave, slowly retreat and call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance.
    • Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area's appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).
    • Check please! If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don't do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter. If bears have been sighted near your home, it is a good practice to turn on a light and check the backyard before taking pets out at night. "Ideally, we want bears to pass by residential areas without finding a food reward that would cause them to return and become a problem,"
    • Stay Calm. If you see a bear and it hasn't seen you, leave the area calmly. Talk to the bear while moving away to help it discover your presence. Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.
    • Get Back. If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while quietly talking. Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact. Do not turn and run; rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened.
    • Avoid blocking the bear's only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear. Do not attempt to climb a tree. A female bear can falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree. Pay Attention. If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness or discomfort with your presence, such as pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws, leave the area. Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet. If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear. Turning and running could elicit a chase and you cannot outrun a bear. Bears that appear to be stalking should be confronted and made aware of your willingness to defend by waving your arms and yelling while you continue to back away.
    • Fight Back. If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area. Bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys, or even bare hands. "Learning about bears and being aware of their habits is a responsibility that comes with living in rural Pennsylvania or recreating in the outdoors," More information on black bears is available on the Game Commission's website ( by selecting on "Hunting," and then clicking on the black bear photograph.

Video Series: Produced in cooperation with Safety in Bear Country Society.

University Publications

These links are comprised of pages dedicated to providing more information on the biology and control of bears in all their varieties. Before initiating any bear control measures be sure to check with appropriate federal and state agencies. Links to those agencies can be found in the navigation bar above. 

Black Bear Management-- Mississippi State University 

Black Bears-- Penn State University

Managing Bear Damage to Beehives-- Colorado State University 

Managing Black Bears--Virginia Polytech 

Herrero, Steve. 2002. "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance" (Revised ed) The Lyons Press, Guilford, CT.


Mar 22, 2007. Yellowstone Grizzlies no longer threatened. USA Today.

Mar 9, 2007. NJ Courts dabble in bear management. The Outdoor Wire.

July 25, 2006. Triathlete hits Bear in Colorado. CBS

May 24, 2006. Woman attacked by bear. The Star Beacon, Ohio.

April 14, 2006. 6 yr old. Killed by Bear. ABCNews.

Bear Related Websites

Get Bear Smart-A site dedicated to non-lethal management of bear problems through hazing and public education.

Bear Aware--MT Fish and Game Dept. Information on black bears and grizzly bears.

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee--Federal and State Collaborative Organization dedicated to preserving and managing grizzly bears.





Skip Navigation Links