Just Grin and Bear It? How to Protect Your Property from Wildlife!

I love animals. I have a dog and a cat. Being a former city girl, I have a solid understanding of furry domesticated house pets. House pets are fun, furry, and like to frolic. Now that I live in the country, I’ve had to learn a lot about furry undomesticated animals. Living in a rural region means I encounter wildlife like bears and deer on a daily basis. These undomesticated animals may be furry, but they can also be ferocious, frightful, and famished. I’ve also become aware that wildlife can cause considerable property damage.

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Over the last week the local neighborhood bears have come out of hibernation and awoken from their seasonal slumber. The bears are hungry. The bears are grumpy. The bears want food. In their search for something tasty, the bears have feasted on our neighbor’s garbage, flipped our new freezer, and busted our barbecue. I would like to prevent the wildlife from destroying personal property and from becoming dependent on human food, especially since “a fed bear is a dead bear”. Sadly, the local authorities will remove or shoot any animal who insists on visiting humans.

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The following covers how to insure against property damage, how to prevent property damage, what you should do when face-to-face with a black bears.

Should You Get Insurance?

In my search for property (and bear) protection advice, I have found these following insurance tips helpful.

Home Insurance:

Many home insurance policies will cover wildlife property damage. I checked my home insurance policy and found it had a little bit of coverage for deer run-ins and backyard bears. My issue with home insurance is the deductible, it’s outrageously high. The amount of property damage I have incurred is less than the insurance policy deductible. In my case, it’s not worth putting in a “flipped freezer” or “busted barbecue” claim against my home insurance policy. When insuring your home against wildlife damage, be sure the premiums and deductibles make sense given your actual wildlife exposure and property protection need.

Car Insurance:

Car insurance makes a lot more sense for those driving in the path of deer. I’ve know many a driver completely demolish their car or truck by striking a deer caught in headlights. Be sure to review your car collision insurance for deductibles and the amount of coverage in case of animal collisions. Hopefully, your policy replaces your car if destroyed or demolished by Bambi.

Life Insurance:

Getting the right life insurance policy makes sense to those living around wildlife. Besides, those without adequate disability insurance or life insurance leave themselves and their loved ones in financial uncertainty if injury or death occur. If you have dependents, consider getting Term Life insurance for their financial well-being, just in case the wilderness bites back.

How To Prevent Wildlife Property Damage:

Being well protected insurance-wise is always a good idea. However, preventing animals from wandering into your backyard is key. Animals want one thing really, they want food. Spending big bucks on insurance premiums, policy deductibles, and property damage can be avoided by animal proofing your home. Here how:

Stash Your Trash:

Bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible or smelly. Always store garbage in bear-proof containers or inside until pick-up. Bring freezers indoors since animals have a keen sense of smell and can track down even frozen foods.

Organize Orchards and Gardens:

Pick up fallen tree fruit or protect fruit trees with electric fencing. Orchards and gardens should be kept neat. Harvest fruits and vegetables as early as possible.

Consider Composting Inside:

Compost is a great way to keep solid waste and soil nutrients out of our landfills, but it can attract bears. Try composting kitchen waste indoors using worms. If you have a garden or orchard enclosure try putting your compost inside the fence.

Bring Pet Food Inside:

Feed pets indoors or feed only enough so that no food remains during the night. Clean bowls regularly.

Clean Barbecues and Grills:

Clean and cover barbecue grills constantly. Store grills in the basement or another secure location when not in use. Clean spilled or dripped grease from deck area. Do not leave food cooking outside unattended, bears love a picnic and have been known to steal steak hot off the grill.

Banish Bird Feeders:

A low hanging bird feeder can attract bears, especially in the spring. Seeds are high in calories and are a very good source of energy. Bears can climb to reach nearly any feeder. A feeder high up on the side of the house is likely safe from bears. Don’t let seeds accumulate under your feeder. Put out your feeders after the first snowfall (once the bears are safely in their winter dens) and take them down when spring arrives.

What should I do if I see a Black Bear?

In the past few weeks I have come face-to-face with several black bears. The meetings are always scary, but I have found some advice from our local Conservation Officer helpful.

To discourage a black bear:

  • Carry registered bear pepper spray in an easily accessible location.
  • Alter your route to avoid a bear in the distance.
  • Never come between a mother bear and her cubs.
  • If the bear continues to approach you, make yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms. Make loud noises, yell, hollar, whistle.
  • Do not run and never play dead with black bears.
  • If the bear does not leave the area, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away. Pick up young children.
  • If a bear is in your yard, scare it away from inside the house, keeping the doors closed.

If you are in an emergency situation: Black bears usually avoid people, but if they start to associate people with food they may become aggressive. On the rare occasion that a black bear becomes aggressive, do the following:

  • If a black bear attacks, fight back with all your power. Fight back with rocks, sticks, fists, arms, and bear spray.

Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their food, a black bear will usually detect you and leave the area before you notice. If you live in black bear country, keep safe by being responsible and not attracting them in the first place.

Do you have backyard bears? Do you insure against wildlife property damage? Have you come face-to-face with a bear?

Your two cents:

  1. No Debt Plan May 5th, 2008

    Definitely scary stuff… looks like you are really out in the woods!

  2. Kerry May 5th, 2008

    @No Debt Plan: Very scary stuff indeed. I live in the middle of the woods. :)

  3. CindyS May 6th, 2008

    Wow! You have done a LOT of research. Great tips. Could you expand a bit about making indoor compost with worms? That is a new one on me and I would love to learn more about it.

  4. Kerry May 7th, 2008

    @CindyS I’m looking into worm composting. Kinda wondering if I want worms in the house though….still wondering…

  5. Soultravelers3 May 8th, 2008

    Yowser, this is scary. Good information as usual, but gee, I feel a little afraid for you. The bears in Yosemite always made me a little nervous, but i never got this close. Take care.

  6. Mrs Pillars May 9th, 2008

    Wow – it sounds like you live an exciting life out there. Here in Toronto, we fortunately don’t get bears, but lots of raccoons. They’re not as strong as bears, but they have those nifty little human-like hands that can get into “raccoon-proof” garbage cans. They also enjoyed our homegrown tomatoes last year, the little stinkers!

  7. Dusty September 27th, 2011

    Having lived on a ranch in NM, in an area that had cougar, coyote & other problem critters, I learned very early about cayenne pepper. Mom & Dad would add a bit of extremely hot chili pepper powder, like habenero or pequin, to cayenne pepper powder, and sprinkle it anywhere we didn’t want critters, like on & in garbage, around the house, bird feeder area, under windows… Worked real good.

    Where I live now, it’s very rural & heavily forested. We have several coyote packs, and worse mixed coyote & feral dog packs. Cayenne & hot pepper powder work great. I also plant the hottest peppers I can find, along with lots of garlic (buy heads at store, plant the cloves) and that keeps critters out of the gardens.

    I also bought a Scarecrow, a motion activated water sprayer you hook to a hose. The first nights I heard several startled and fleeing racoons, dogs/coyotes and a couple cats. It paid for itself 2 days later, when I heard a human voice yell and curse. Seems it sprayed the burglar that was hitting remote homes. I bought a second one for the front yard the next day. I loved the videos of it scaring bears out of yards.

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