U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Human–Wildlife Interactions Monograph 2:1-68


Most human–black bear (Ursus americanus) conflict occurs when people make anthropogenic foods like garbage, dog food, domestic poultry, or fruit trees available to bears. Bears change their behavior to take advantage of these resources and may damage property or cause public safety concerns in the process. Managers are often forced to focus efforts on reactive non-lethal and lethal bear management techniques to solve immediate problems, which do little to address root causes of human–bear conflict. As long as bears find easy access to garbage, bird feeders, urban fruit trees, and other food subsidies, conflicts are likely to continue. Managers and the public need to understand the available tools to stop human–bear conflict and reduce effects on bear populations. Rhetorically blaming bears for conflicts by labeling them as problem bears or nuisance bears is becoming increasing unpopular. Ultimately human behavior must change by reducing anthropogenic resources that cause human– bear conflicts. This process requires a different suite of tools and should be the primary focus for bear managers interested in lowering the potential for conflict.

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