This action aims at exerting aversive conditioning to habituated and/or problem bears occurring in the area targeted by the project through the use of specific aversive means and devices, in order to reduce human-bear conflict situations and thus reduce probabilities of bear human-caused mortality. The key to successfully managing human-bear conflicts is to first minimize the number of human-bear conflict situations (through effective waste management, education and enforcement) and, secondly, to deal with any resulting conflicts in a non-lethal manner.
Non-lethal alternatives provide an effective management tool and incorporate a more holistic, long-term approach to bear management.
Non-lethal Bear Management uses negative conditioning to modify undesirable bear behavior without destroying the animal. These methods can be reinforced with the use of bear dogs, rubber bullets, pyrotechnics, bear pepper spray and other deterring devices. Bears can be taught to stay away from people and their property.
It needs to be stressed that negative conditioning should aid, but not be a substitute for preventive measures that eliminate or reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts. Bears are behaviorally complex mammals and individual responses to repellents and deterrents should be expected (Gillin et al. 1992; Hunt 1984; Roop & Hunt 1986). Factors affecting a bear's response to treatment include temperament, dominance, and reproductive status, past experiences with humans. Bears that have become habituated to human presence, but are not food conditioned, are generally considered as an easier problematic situation to deal with.
In order to achieve aversive conditioning in situations with “habituated” and/or “problem” bears in the area targeted by the project five types of appropriate devices will be purchased by the project and used by the mixed BET team (synergy with action C4) accordingly depending on the specific circumstances related to each case. These devices and their functions are shortly described as follows:
- Scarecrow: This animal repeller keeps bears and other animal "intruders" away with a blast of cold water – a humane and effective method of deterring animals from your yard. It is hooked up to a normal garden hose and mounted in the ground. When the motion detector senses movement, the Scarecrow sprays a 3-4 second burst of water and then resets itself. The spray head can be adjusted from 10°- 360° to cover a small or large area and has a 35 ft range for flexibility in placement.
- Critter Gitter: The Critter Gitter detects animals moving into an area up to 13.5 m (40ft) away using passive infrared, body heat or motion detection and then emits ear piercing sounds and flashes lights. This detector has been designed to change its sound and light patterns with each intrusion and automatically reset itself. One of the disadvantages of the Critter Gitter is that bears may become acclimatized to the sound and lights over time and no longer move from the area. However, an advantage is that the device alerts homeowners when a bear is around so that they can take the appropriate action.
- Food-trap with pepper spray: Looks and smells like a trash can, but is actually a Bear Educational device. This proven field tested unit is designed to aid you as a tool in dealing with problem bears. The barrel is baited with food (i.e. raw bacon drenched in honey) and armed with bear pepper spray. Once the bear takes the bait, he activates the triggering device and releases a blast of bear pepper spray directly into the bears face. The bear will relate this location with an unpleasant experience and be very reluctant to return. This unit must be used with extreme caution in public areas - warning signs must be posted. There is no long lasting ill-effect from bear pepper spray, but will cause about 15 minutes of severe pain.
- Falcon Super-sound Signal Horn: It is a 1.5 oz air horn, device that produces a maximum sound. It is 100% ozone safe, non-flammable. 4-1/2'' tall. SS, non-corrosive diaphragm. The Mini-horn with the maximum sound. Just a touch of thumb produces a piercing blast that can be heard up to a half mile over land and a mile over water. Palm-size convenience with unlimited uses from casual small-craft signaling to personal protection. Excellent for use in bear country! It can produce approximately 200, two second blasts.
Moreover, we expect that these devices will be deployed only under specific circumstances -according to the BET Protocol ranking manual and table, in order to achieve a first level of deterring impact on problem bears. After that first stage, the alternate and combinatory use of the other deterring devices mentioned under this action, constitute a suitable option that is expected to maximize their efficiency and minimize their stimulus habituation effect on bears.