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Do Bears Frequent Your Log Home?

Smart Bears are Winning the Contest!

One of the benefits of living in a rural area is being in such close proximity with the local wildlife.  Seeing a bear in the wild is a very cool experience (as long as that bear isn’t eyeing you for lunch), but sometimes those cute critters can become quite a nuisance.   

We have a problem with black bears where we live, I’ve mentioned it a few times on this blog.  Like many bears living near populated areas, they are attracted by the smell of our trash.  Our log home sits one-third of a mile off the road so we are relatively secluded.  We keep our trash containers away from the house, nearer the road.

Consequently, we don’t often get bears visiting our home, but they love to match wits with me at the trash site.  They were winning for a while until I developed a /protected area’ by installing a ‘hot wire’.  My first electric fence was a quickie… I used inexpensive plastic poles and strung a few layers of wire.  It worked as expected for a few months.

One day, a very determined bear breached the wire and in an attempt to get to the trash bins, must have entangled himself in the wires – and I can only imagine the scene….  When I approached the trash bins the following morning, they were scattered everywhere, garbage was spread over two acres and the poles and wires were a jumbled mess.  I know that poor bear must have gotten tangled in the wire because the aftermath looked like a very angry critter did his best to destroy my fence.  Poles were uprooted and a few were broken… that was one angry bear!

Building a bear-proof electric fence

I launched phase II of the “Man vs. Bear” contest with a new fence using metal ranch fence posts.  These metal posts need to be hammered into the ground and once buried adequately, they are quite sturdy.  Next I added the plastic insulators and strung the hot wire.  This time I added an extra row so that the wires had only 6-8 inches spacing between each other.  The bottom wire was only 6″ off the ground.  There was no way those bears were going to get at my trash this time.

To ensure the fence worked properly and make certain that plants would not grow and short out the fence, I sprayed vegetation killer along the ground under the wires.

This fence has performed as desired for the past two years… until yesterday.  When Lilly Belle (our Great Pyrenees pooch) and I approached the fence on our morning walk, I was astonished to see the fence in perfect shape, but trash bins were knocked over and garbage was strewn everywhere.  Then I noticed that some bags had been dragged away from the fence – for a more relaxed dining experience, I’m sure. 

My first thought was that the battery must have died leaving the hot wire… cold.  I checked the box and the battery was still good and the fence still hot.  Then I saw what happened.  That damn smart bear had dug under the fence and crawled on his belly to escape the hot wire.  The bear tipped over the bins, chose the bags that smelled most appetizing, and then dragged them under the fence.  Now THAT is a smart black bear!

So now what do I do, pour a concrete footing to keep the bears from digging under my fence?  Living in a log home out in the country is as good as it gets, but sometimes matching wits with the wildlife is a little intimidating.

More about Montana’s bears here.

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