Bird Feeders and Yukon Bears: Best Practices for Coexistence

This study was directed at gaining an understanding of the abundance and characteristics of bird feeders in the Yukon and their risk as possible bear attractants, with the overarching goal of creating a best practices list for Yukon bird feeder operators. Throughout this study, I examined relevant literature, along with results from a survey sent to the Yukon Bird Club and Yukon Environmental Network. I also examined data from WildWise Yukon’s door to door surveys, the Whitehorse Bear Hazard Assessment and a portion of the Conservation Officer Services Branch 2012-2017 dataset. Results indicated that there had been 9 human-bear conflicts associated with bird feeders between 2012-2017. Survey data based on 64 individual results indicated that a large portion of Yukon bird feeders are set up in a manner that could make them accessible to bears. Based on information from my literature review and results, the most effective means of reducing human-bear conflict caused by bird feeders is to ensure that bird feeders are not stocked during active bear season (April- October). However, there are other viable options too, such as hanging the feeder out of a bear’s reach, and securing it on an anchored metal pole. Reducing the presence of any other attractants on the property, as well as cleaning up spilled seed will also reduce the chances of attracting a bear to one’s property.