What To Do If You Have A Conflict With A Bear


Prevention is Your Best Bet!

Bears are naturally shy animals and prefer to avoid people. Conflicts arise when they are attracted to human food or garbage or when we surprise them while out on the trail.

See Living and camping in bear country for tips on how to prevent bears from getting into food and garbage around your home and camp.

If You Have a Problem With a Bear Around Your Home or Cabin

If in spite of your best prevention efforts a bear is causing a problem around your home and cabin, here are a few things you can do to get it to leave.

  • First make sure that you and your family are in a safe spot (inside a house or vehicle, or standing close together with 3 or more people).
  • Make noise (yell, bang pans, etc.) to scare the bear.
  • If the bear is not threatening, watch it and try to figure out why it is attracted to your home or camp. Fix the problem after the bear leaves. You can call your local Fish and Game office for suggestions.
  • If the bear is a threat to a person’s life or your property you may either call the Police (911), your local Fish and Game office, and/or shoot the bear yourself.
  • Remember, if the bear has been attracted to your home or camp by improperly stored food or garbage, it can NOT be legally killed.

If You Kill a Bear in Defense of Life or Property (DLP)

You may kill a bear in defense of your life or property if you did not provoke an attack or cause a problem by negligently leaving human or pet food or garbage in a manner that attracts bears and if you have done everything else you can to protect your life and property (5 AAC 92.410).

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Property means your dwelling, means of travel, pets or livestock, fish drying racks, or other valuable property necessary for your livelihood or survival. While game meat is considered your property, you may not kill a bear to protect it unless the meat is critical for your survival. Even in this situation you still must do everything possible to protect the meat (i.e. proper storage, scaring the scavenger, etc. See Safely in Bear Country) before you may kill the bear.

If you have to shoot a bear, be sure you shoot to kill – wounded bears are potentially more dangerous than healthy bears. Also be very careful of what lies beyond your intended target – stray bullets can travel over a mile and still be deadly.

Bears killed in defense of life or property belong to the state. If you kill a bear you must remove the hide from the carcass and must also salvage the skull (Bear Hides: Skinning and Field Care) (PDF 506 kB). You must give both the hide, with claws attached, and the skull to ADF&G. You must also notify your local ADF&G Wildlife Conservation office or Alaska Wildlife Troopers immediately. You are required to fill out and submit a Defense of Life or Property Report Form (PDF 114 kB) questionnaire concerning the circumstances within 15 days.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>