This is the time of year where bears are out looking to stock up before winter and many are finding food near our homes. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks want to keep bear conflicts to a minimum this fall. FWP Information and Education Program Manager Vivaca Crowser encourages folks to remove or secure backyard bear attractants.

“We have certainly received a lot of reports of bears in neighborhoods,” Crowser said. “They are hanging around because of these ripe apples and other fruits. It is really important to remember to secure those trees. Sometimes electric fencing is a good solution. Picking fruit is a good solution too, but it can be a lot of work sometimes. Keep fruit off the ground if it has fallen. It really makes a difference in keeping bears from hanging out in our neighborhoods.”

Crowser says If you’re unable to pick your fruit and would like assistance in Missoula, there are several organizations that can lend a hand.

“Going to missoulabears.org is the best bet,” Crowser said. “It lists all the current organizations that can help out and provides some contact information. There are some community events that also get at this idea of what to do with all this excess fruit. One of those is the Ninemile cider pressing event on October 12.”

On Saturday, October 12 from 11am-3pm, the Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup is hosting an Apple Cider Festival and Chili Cookoff at the 9Mile Community Center. Folks can bring their backyard apples and get assistance pressing them into cider for free. According to Crowser, there are other attractants in and around our backyards that also need to be picked up this time of year.

“Make sure things like compost piles, garbage, and even dirty barbeque grills are out of a bear’s reach,” Crowser said. “Also, if you have any backyard livestock like chickens, make sure they are in a secure structure. Sometimes electric fencing is a good solution there too because all those types of things tend to draw in wildlife.”

For more information on minimizing backyard bear attractants, visit fwp.mt.gov.