There are various plants and trees that can deter or attract bears. Common bear attractants are berry shrubs and other fruit trees, vegetable gardens with root vegetables like potatoes, beets, or carrots.
Bears are also attracted to beehives, so keeping them enclosed is important. They’re also attracted by dandelions, sweet vetch, and clover.
Any vegetables should be harvested right after they ripen to reduce bear encounters and it’s highly recommended for gardens to be secured with an electric fence in bear country.
On the other hand, bears are less attracted by flower gardens and non-fruit trees.
In this article, we’ll learn which trees and plants attract or deter bears, so you can be smart about what you decide to plant.
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Which Plants Deter Bears?
Bears aren’t attracted to certain flowers, bushes, and landscaping trees like lupine, columbine, mock orange, willows, and penstemon.
It’s therefore beneficial to plant non-fruit bearing trees that won’t be attractive to bears near the entrances of farms and gardens.
Bears will also dig up root vegetables and eat them, causing a lot of damage. In fact, a brown bear’s diet is primarily made up of roots and herbage they have foraged.
Some of the most common vegetables that bears usually go for are potatoes, beets, and carrots. Bears also like corn fields a lot!
Morning Chores note that making a one-hundred-foot buffer between the garden and potential bears is helpful. It will lower the chances for a bear to approach the garden and make damage.
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Which Plants Attract Bears?
Black bears are attracted to melons, early vegetables, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, aromatic plants, and root vegetables.
This is why protecting gardens with electric fences is pivotal for people who live in rural areas and bear country.
Moreover, it’s essential to pick up the produce right after it has ripened. This will decrease the chance of bear encroachment. It can also be beneficial when gardens are located as far away as possible from bear paths.
Shrubs with fruits, especially berries, are some of the favorite and easiest sources of food for bears like the American black bear.
They also tend to find clumped berries much more attractive than berries that are spread over throughout the branches.
Bears are attracted to gardens even more when they’re preparing for hibernation in winter. In the weeks leading up to hibernation, bears enter a state known as a hyper-active mode of feeding.
When planted alone, one bush won’t be very appealing to bears. But high-density crops that form a hedge may encourage a bear to visit your garden.
Gardens also shouldn’t have fish fertilizer, blood meal, or deer repellent laying around because they’re bear attractants.
This video shows how a bear consumes berries in the forest:
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How to Bearproof an Outdoor Garden in Bear Country?
Bearproofing gardens in bear country requires certain repellent tactics and also keeping any garbage cans and other containers locked away from a bear’s reach.
Double bagging and keeping scraps in airtight containers, using bear-proofed trashcans that don’t release bad smells, and locking trash in garages can all help keep bears at bay.
These are several other effective tactics to minimize bear visits in outdoor gardens:
1. Keep compost free of meat or sweet scraps
Bears have a strong sense of smell which is much stronger and more sensitive than that of humans.
So, avoid keeping compost in your garden that has vegetable or meat scraps inside as this may attract bears.
Compost needs to be aerated regularly and it’s even recommendable to keep it in an area enclosed by an electric fence.
This video shows how to compost properly in bear country:
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2. Electric Fences
Fencing is essential to a garden that’s not frequented by bears. Bears are excellent climbers so it must be an electric one.
The shocks inflicted on the bear are painful, but they do not cause long-term harm to the animal.
The fence should be at least eight feet in height and some two feet below the ground because they’re also excellent diggers.
one Minnesota biologist notes that repeated attacks on beehives was successfully prevented through the use of a temporary prefabricated fence with a charger powered by D-cell flashlight batteries.
The wires were intentionally smeared with honey. The strip was torn off in the morning, but the jolt which the bear experienced resulted in it not breaking the fence.
This beekeeper shares his tips for a DIY electric bear fence:
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3. Choose the Correct Bear Deterrents
Undoubtedly, the correct deterrent is a clean yard without foods that bears like to eat. Bears are attracted the most by grills, garbage cans, and pet and bird foods because it’s food and because it smells attractive to their sharp noses. So, keep those things out of your yard.
Other good deterrents include loud noises like human sounds and horns. Some gardeners also apply chili pepper spray on plants.
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When living in bear country, it’s pivotal to be aware of the most common plants that deter or attract bears.
By knowing them, planning an outdoor garden properly is easier. You can shelter the attractants in a fenced area and keep the deterrents near entrances.
Bears are known to be attracted by fruit-bearing trees, beehives, certain vegetables like carrots, corn, etc. On the other hand, they’re not that attracted to some flowers, landscaping trees like willows, and columbine.
One of the best ways to bearproof outdoor gardens is to place electric fences around the garden which may contain potential bear attractants and reduce damage and risk of conflict.
Other methods to keep a garden unattractive for bears is to have guard animals like dogs, use bearproof trashcans, and keep compost free of sweet and animal-origin scraps.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.