Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

WDFW Help



How do I deal with a black bear?

  • The first step in discouraging a black bear is to remove the source of attraction, which is almost always food. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and are omnivores, meaning they will eat almost anything, vegetable or meat. Take the following precautions to reduce the likelihood of an encounter with a bear:
    • Take down birdfeeders if they are attracting bears.
    • Keep garbage cans in a garage or another secure area until collection day.
    • Never intentionally feed bears or other wild animals.
    • Remove pet food from areas accessible to wildlife.
    • Thoroughly clean barbecue grills after each use.
    • When camping, keep a clean campsite by thoroughly cleaning all cooking utensils after use and sealing uneaten food in airtight containers stored in bear-proof canisters away from sleeping areas.
  • In the event of an actual encounter with a bear, WDFW offers the following advice:
    • Don’t run.
    • Pick up small children.
    • Stand tall, wave your arms above your head, and shout.
    • Do not approach the animal, and be sure to leave it an escape route.
    • Try to get upwind of the bear so that it can identify you as a human and leave the area.
  • See WDFW's “Living with Wildlife: Bears” fact sheet for more information.


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Last Updated
24th of May, 2011

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