How to Bear Proof Your Home, Cabin

By BRUCE AUCHLY for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

It’s summer; time for many folks to head to the mountains for vacation.

That’s fine, just remember Montana’s mountains are home to black and grizzly bears.

This time of year, bears are looking for any and all food sources as they wait for chokecherries, currants, buffalo berries and other natural foods to ripen.

In search of food, bears can be drawn to populated areas or mountain cabins by unsecured garbage cans, the smell of pet food, bird feeders and dirty barbecue grills.

Bears that encounter human supplied food sources often have a hard time returning to natural food. A conditioned bear will travel miles to get to a garbage can.

The following small precautions can go a surprisingly long way to deter bears from visiting one’s backyard or campsite:

  • keep pet food inside a building or vehicle,
  • clean dirty barbeque grills,
  • take down bird feeders until the winter,
  • make sure the compost pile is not laden with food scraps,
  • keep garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or in a secure building until trash collection.

To learn more about bear proofing backyards and neighborhoods, and what systems, such as bear-resistant garbage cans or electric fence kits, may be needed to keep attractants off-limits, visit or call the nearest regional FWP office. Or go to the FWP website’s Be Bear Aware page at

Jen's friendly neighborhood black bear.