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Composting in Bear Country
On-site backyard composting is the most effective and environmentally-friendly way to manage the organic ‘waste’ your home produces. Your compost will not be a bear attractant if it is maintained correctly and other attractants are managed responsibly.
Did you know… Bears require up to 20,000 calories per day before hibernation. That’s equivalent to 40 hamburgers and 40 ice cream sundaes! Once they find an easy food source they will keep returning to it. Don’t let them discover food at your home!
Step 1 Be unattractive
Ensure that your yard does not provide easy, unnatural food sources for bears.
Bear attractants include:
- odorous Garbage
- unwashed recycling
- fruit-bearing plants
- bird feeders
- dirty BBQ’s
- accessible pet food
- poorly maintained compost
Step 2 Work Together
Collaborate with your neighbours to ensure that your immediate neighbourhood follows all preventative measures to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
Step 3 Go Big on Brown
Maintain a healthy compost bin to prevent odours that can attract bears. The key to a healthy compost bin is equal portions of brown materials and green materials. The bacteria that do the majority of the work in your compost bin require nitrogen-rich greens and an equal or greater volume of carbon-rich browns in order to create healthy, odourless compost.
Browns should be added with every single addition of kitchen scraps completely in layers no more than 4 inches thick. You will need to collect browns (fallen leaves) in the autumn to have enough to last the year or use other materials listed.
Step 4 Add oxygen
Frequent aerating is necessary to encourage the oxygen-loving aerobic bacteria in your bin, especially at the compressed bottom of your heap. Lack of oxygen can result in an anaerobic, smelly compost bin, which is not acceptable in bear country. Aeration is best done with a “Wingdigger”- type tool or a strong straight stick. Poke holes all the way down at least every couple of weeks, always finishing off by covering with more browns.
Step 5 Bury Fruit
Large volumes of fruit or other particularly odorous greens should be composted in the following manner to make their odours undetectable to bears: dig a hole in the compost and bury under at least 12” of soil.
Did you know… low quality household paper products, such as tissue paper, egg cartons, paper towels, paper bags and cardboard rolls, are a great source of browns for your compost bin!
Garden Smart Tip A simple electric fence can be used to keep bears away from fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
What to Compost
Fresh grass clippings
Fruit and vegetable scraps
Newspaper (torn into 1” strips and crumpled) Tissue paper or kraft brown paper
Paper towels or napkins
Cardboard (toilet paper rolls, egg cartons,
corrugated cardboard torn into small pieces) Coffee filters
Dried grass clippings
Other Acceptable Materials
Rinsed and pulverized eggshells
Small amounts of fireplace ash
Unacceptable in Bear Country
Grains, rice or pasta
Grease or oil
Dog or cat feces and kitty litter (for health, not bear reasons)