With a healthy black bear population, bear sightings are becoming common throughout much of Virginia. A highly adaptable and intelligent animal, bears can live close to people. While local residents often do not know bears are living close by, some bears may wander into residential areas due to the smell of food around homes. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food; however, outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

What should you do if you see a bear?

  • Enjoy and keep a respectful distance! In most cases, the bear will move on quickly. 
  • If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach, and bring your pets inside to provide the bear a clear path to leave your property.

What should you do if a bear is consuming bird seed, garbage, pet food, etc. on your property? 

  • Call police dispatch at 434-847-1602 and ask for the Chief Animal Warden for Lynchburg City. 
  • The best way to encourage the bear not to return is to remove the food source. 
  • Do not store household trash, or anything that smells like food, in vehicles, on porches or decks. 
  • Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement. 
  • Take your garbage to the dump frequently. 
  • If you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before. 
  • Take down your bird feeder for 3-4 weeks after the bear visits. 
  • Consider installing electric fencing, an inexpensive and extremely efficient proven deterrent to bears, around dumpsters, gardens, beehives, or other potential food sources. 
  • If addressed quickly, this situation can be resolved almost immediately after you remove the food source. Sometimes, the bear may return searching for food, but after a few failed attempts to find it, will leave your property. 

For more information please visit: https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/living-with-black-bears/