Shelter on the Hill: A Humane Society

President's Message

Bears and Pet Food

As the leaves begin to change and the temperature starts to drop, bears from Maine to Alaska go on the hunt for the food which they need to sustain them through the months of winter hibernation.This need to pack on the pounds, known as hyperphagia, may drive bears to areas they don't normally go as they search for food.

During this pre-hibernation phase, bears will consume up to 20,000 calories a day and can often spend 20 hours seeking out that food. They'll also skew from their usual diet, favoring higher fat and higher carbohydrate items this time of year.

The bear's drive to consume calories trumps everything and makes bears go where they normally wouldn't - which means closing and locking doors and windows, and keeping garages, open areas like patios, and automobiles clear of all attractants.

It only takes one person to disregard common-sense precautions for a bear to get into their trash or their home and that one person increases the chances that the bear will move on to another's home, car or trash can.

Remember even things such as hand lotion, lip balms or sunscreen which may not seem anything like food to us may smell attractive to a bear.

At this time of year bears don't discriminate where or when when it comes to food. Earlier this month, a young bear in Tennessee helped himself to a customer's pizza on the patio of Howard's Steakhouse in downtown Gatlinburg. And last month in Georgia, a woman spotted a bear climbing into her car through an open window and chowing down on her lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, some chips and a cookie.

Unfortunately bears that become habituated to finding food in human habitats are candidates for permanent removal. So please - Be Aware & Save the Bears.

Candace Huskey, President