Problems with wildlife are often because of a lack of awareness in humans – even with the agencies and professionals who are expected to handle the conflicts on behalf of the community. This session aims to educate those working in the animal welfare field as well as the public on bears and cougars, the conflicts that humans tend to have with these species, how to coexist with them, and how to respond in the event of an unexpected encounter.
This session’s instructor is Lynsey White, the Director of Humane Wildlife Conflict Resolution for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Lynsey helps communities implement humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife and runs the Wild Neighbors program, which advocates humane policies and practices in the animal care and control profession.
Specifics of her discussion covered:
- Getting to know bears and cougars.
- Distinguishing qualities of black bears and grizzly bears
- Information about each species’ life cycle, breeding, diet, ecology, and activities.
- Fun facts demonstrating bears’ and cougars’ unique qualities, abilities, and behavior.
- The benefits of bears and cougars in the ecosystem.
- A rundown of the common conflicts with bears and cougars.
- Bears going through the trash that typically contains food.
- Different forms of food attractants as pet food, fruit trees, and compost.
- Bears and cougars going into residential areas and even inside homes.
- Bears accessing bird feeders and beehives particularly during the fall as they prepare for torpor.
- Bears and cougars interacting with or preying on pets and livestock.
- Bears and cougars encountering people during hikes and on campsites.
- Recommended effective solutions to address human conflict with bears and cougars in the community.
- Effective trash management by using bear-proof trashcans and dumpsters, and scheduling putting out of the trash when it can be picked up immediately.
- Limiting food items that go to the trash, assigning food waste drop-off sites, and not putting meat or dairy in the compost.
- Periodic cleaning of trash containers so the smell doesn’t attract bears.
- Implementing feeding bans and eliminating and enclosing food attractants like pet food, fruit trees, gardens.
- Trimming vegetation that cougars are likely to use as hiding spots.
- Cleaning outdoor cooking tools that may attract bears after use.
- Ensuring homes’ doors, windows, and garages are secured and replacing lever door handles with doorknobs.
- Taking bird feeders down, making these less accessible to bears, and using birdbaths and nesting boxes instead.
- Walking dogs on a short leash, keeping pets indoors, and making loud noises when pets have to be let outside.
- Installing electric fences and secure enclosures to protect pets and livestock from attacks.
- Burying carcasses 8 feet underground and cleaning up after birth so bears don’t get attracted to its smell.
- Training guard dogs against bears and cougars.
- Guidelines on what to do when in a face-to-face encounter with a bear or cougar.
- The common but ineffective methods of hunting and relocation done in response to conflict with bears and cougars.
- How professionals and the public can employ aversive conditioning and negative reinforcement to stop bears from doing behaviors causing conflict.
Questions raised by the webinar participants are on:
- Using bear spray on cougars.
- References for conflict with coyotes.
- The source of the photos used in the presentation.
- What will happen when you play dead with black bears.
- Using pepper spray instead of bear spray.
- Shooting the ground with a firearm to scare a bear.
- Leaving water for wild animals during wildfires.
- Resources on electric fencing to protect livestock.
- Whether beanbag ammunition and rubber bullets injure the bears.
Other Webinars with HSUS:
- March 18: Reuniting & Renesting Orphaned Wildlife
- May 18: Animal Cruelty Investigations and the Fourth Amendment
- June 8: Helping Wild Animals in Distress
- Aug 3: Did They Actually Live Happily Ever After? Debunking Translocation Myths
- Oct 28: Solving Problems with Cougars and Bears (this webinar)
- Nov 11: Preparing for Court: Tips for Effective Testimony about Animal Crimes
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Humane Wildlife Conflict Guide
- Handout: Coexisiting with Cougars Fact Sheet
- Handout: Preventing Conflicts with Black Bears
- “The presenter was very knowledgeable and engaging. Thanks!” — Detective
- “The most valuable thing I learned is that there are always different alternatives for diffusing or preventing wildlife conflicts.” — Brent
- “This is one f my favorite talks you have given. educational, practical, good handouts, knowledgeable speaker. I have bears and cougars where I live so this was very helpful.” — Carolyn
- “Great presentation! I enjoy learning from specialists and frequently share the knowledge and advertise for JCH. Thank you!!!!” — Nicole
- “I don’t think you can ever know too much! Your presentation was informative and easy to follow and I loved it! Thank you.” — Nancy
- “I learned quite a few great and interesting facts about bears. I will be using the timelines and graphics about bears and their habits during different times of year. Excellent presentation and topic.” — Robert
This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.