SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has sent out a warning to residents to secure or remove any bear attractants around their homes.

“Deliberately feeding a black bear is illegal in West Virginia, but people tend to forget that unintentionally feeding a bear can also cause serious problems for humans, their property and our state animal,” said Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the WVDNR. “Once a bear gets a taste for human food, they become more of a nuisance and often have to be humanely killed for safety reasons.”

To prevent nuisance bear activity, the WVDNR recommends securing any food, pet food, scraps and trash that a bear could potentially get into.

May and June is considered to be the peak of nuisance bear activity in West Virginia thanks to the scarcity of natural, high-energy food sources such as serviceberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. These food items do not become available “until later in the summer,” making spring an issue for many wandering black bears.

“Bears that roam around residential areas are less likely to stay if they do not find anything to eat, so that’s why we remind folks every year to take responsibility for their property by removing or securing food attractants before a bear finds them,” Carpenter said.

Contact with wild animals can lead to the transmitting of diseases, increased predation, habitat destruction around the feeding site, cause ethical concerns and harm the animal’s overall health.

Tips For Preventing Nuisance Bear Activity:

  • Keep garbage secure in a garage or storage building and only place cans out for collection on the morning of pick-up, not the night before.
  • Seal food scraps that produce an odor in a plastic bag before placing them in the trash.
  • Don’t place food scraps in a compost pile during the summer.
  • Don’t let outside pet food stay out overnight.
  • Take down bird feeders and clean and store them until late fall.
  • Store livestock feed in bear-proof containers or inside a secure building.
  • Keep bears out of beehives and chicken houses by installing an electric fence.

For more information on black bears and how to prevent nuisance activity, visit bearwise.org.