Black bear deterrent ideas?

So this large black bear has decided to move into our suburban neighborhood. They usually come and go and do no more damage than steal trash. However this large fluff has been following a route through my backyard almost nightly for a couple weeks now. I’d like to encourage him to travel elsewhere.

I’ve got a spare motion sensor and plan to move some garden lights over to his path area. These are turned on/off by an outdoor Z-wave switch. The transformer makes a small noise when it turns on but I’m looking for ideas to trigger a louder and longer noise. I don’t want to wake up the family and neighbors so a siren is out of the question.

Any ideas for pre-made or diy outdoor noise devices that might annoy a very large black bear but not the neighbors? I already tried wolf pee granules but had no luck as witnessed on my camera tonight.

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According to the experts, bears pretty quickly figure out that even if something weird is going on like lights and noises, nothing actually happens. So it’s not usually a long term deterrent

Check with whoever your local agricultural agent/Expert is for anything specific to your area, including laws about what you can and cannot use. But it looks like one of the most effective deterrent is just a radio that comes onto a talk station with human voices. Nothing else works for this, not music, not crazy noises, but most Bears really don’t want to be around people. Also the radio doesn’t have to be loud, you’re just trying to simulate people talking nearby. So it may be less likely to annoy your neighbors.

Also remember that your detector is going to go off when anything goes by, including deer, raccoon, a person, etc.

Back from my days when camping, bears really don’t like the smell of ammonia. You don’t have to go crazy with this, just wash the outsides of your trash cans with ammonia In a normal concentration or even wipe down a fence along the path.

Good luck! I live in a semi rural area where we hear coyotes quite often, see bobcats every once in a while, and my cousin came face to face with a mountain lion three years ago. The problem with bears is that they’re scavenging, and there’s just so much good stuff (from their point of view) around people’s houses that once you’re on their route they’re hard to get rid of. That’s why talking to the local agent may help, they may know some things about this particular bear and what they like and don’t like.

For example, some individual Bears will avoid places where there are barking dogs, and some don’t. If the one that’s near your house avoids dogs, then that’s another recording you can try.


Thanks for the link. I’m going to try to come up with a method to trigger a water proof AM radio to turn on to a talk show station. I already have the 12v garden lights wires which I can add or move to power or trigger something. I’ll have to get a little creative for how to switch it on/off. And yes, I expect a lot of false alarms because wind, deer and other creatures move through the same area daily…

Yeah, we pretty much have the same creatures around as you and we are not far from the city at all. There’s a cougar eating dogs about 2 miles away right now according to the Facebook community group. The authorities don’t do much with bears since the sightings are so frequent. Other neighbors have already called this year as well as the school just around the corner that goes into bear lockdown every once in a while. We keep our trash inside the garage so not worried about that. Though the bear did break into the bin in the driveway on garbage pickup day last week. I’d just like to discourage him from hanging around our yard and kids as much as possible. We sometimes forget to make noise when going out into the backyard. So I can also trigger this noise to go off briefly when we open an exterior door.


What about a (not smart) motion sprinkler?

The link mentioned not to use ammonia, so what about a honey covered balloon with habenero pepper filling (please inflate the balloon, and video record for us in case it works :slight_smile:

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The motion sprinkler worked for me. I didn’t have bears, but I did have problems with skunks, coyotes, bobcats and other critters. The sprinklers pretty much solved the issue. I think I got them at Ace Hardware.

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+1. motion sprinkler / scarecrow in warm weather. That will be impossible in freezing weather, or you could fit it with heat trace - I don’t think it will work and you don’t want to bust a hose or sprinkler.

Also maybe an electric fence charger with poly tape for visibility. Hopefully he gets curious and touches it with his nose, and learns to leave quickly without taking out the fence. Don’t make it hard to see.

Trash hygiene is most important. No smells or easy-entrances.

I think motion sensors will false a lot but I would absolutely set it up in bear season anyway. Cameras will help you learn his pattern.

There are a few things you could try. If you have a radio tuned to a talk station that would help. Plug it into an outdoor z-wave plug and have the motion sensor turn it on.

There are also motion activated sprinklers to deter small animals. I image that would startle even a big animal.

Somebody mentioned the Amonia thing too. Maybe just a few bottles with air holes poked in them filled with Amonia.

How about a call to animal control? Or if all else fails a SmartThings-controlled drone with a shotgun? :smile:

Seriously though, most places where bear become a problem – which technically is “our” fault for encroaching on their house – get resolved by moving the bear. Not ideal, nor permanent, but certainly immediate.

Where is it that you live that they just have “bear lockdown” days and it’s so frequent an issue that the authorities just ignore it? That seems somewhat irresponsible, especially if someone gets attacked, which eventually will happen.

Just depends where you live. Parts of Alaska and Canada do have " bear lockdowns" at schools, especially in the late fall when the bears are just foraging in a somewhat wider area to prepare for hibernation. It’s a temporary seasonal thing. Many ski resort areas also get them at the same time of year, including Lake Tahoe.

BTW, with regard to some of the suggestions above, given that the OP has children, I would not use any ambush deterrents like hot peppers that will cause the bear great discomfort. A bear in pain is far more dangerous than one that’s just wandering around looking for garbage cans.

Electric fencing is complicated, and not legal in all areas. I would definitely talk to the local agent/expert before deploying it. It can be very effective, but it is usually used in very specific ways. Not an ambush. It’s highly visible. If the bear brushes it, they get the shock, but as soon as they withdraw, the shock stops. It’s actually less frightening to the bear than something like a pepper bomb where the pain continues and there’s nothing the bear can do about it. But still tricky if a child happen to be in the yard at the moment contact occurred.

Sprinklers are often effective with small animals like skunks, but most Bears don’t really care. Animals that fish literally just shake them off. Plus the cold weather issues already raised.

I hear shot guns work really well too…

Quad Copter with a handgun is my choice

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Thanks, most of you, for the ideas :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. I’m leaning towards the radio with a switch. I can have that go off when we open the patio door as well to help clear the area.

I need to cover the hose spigots in a few weeks as we occasionally, on some years, get some arctic air from November 20 into winter. So motion activated sprinklers don’t make much sense right now.

According to local government bear guidance I read today, these bears should be going into a hybrid hibernation any day now. They are awake enough in this mode to protect themselves but don’t hunt. At this point I’m hoping the den is not in the tiny green belt attached to my back yard.

We are 13 miles northwest of Seattle. The bears don’t actually cause trouble unless startled by accident. They avoid people at all costs. Schools throughout the area do the lockdown drill and they make for cute new stories when caught on camera. Fluffy news story. You can’t shoot bears around here. Those who do face fines and court. You can shoot mountain lions/cougars though…

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Where do you live up there? I lived in oak harbor, on Whidbey island, for 7 years back in the 90’s.

Woodinville, just a hair north of Redmond. We just finished the warmest and driest six month period ever. Now, back to the norm weather you most likely remember.