Bears will not generally attack pets, but they can sometimes be startled by a pet while investigating food sources in and around your yard. Most bears will run and climb a tree when disturbed in this way, but if your pet attacks the bear or is too close a paw swat or attack is possible. Large male bears or sows with cubs might stand their ground rather than run away if they feel threatened.
Here are a few things you can do to protect your pets from bears:
- Keep your dog on a leash if a bear is active in your area.
- Turn on outside lights and make noise when walking pets after dark.
- Keep your pet in the house after dark.
- Don’t leave small pets outside unless you are present.
- Feed your pets inside. If you must feed them outside, remove their dish and clean up afterwards. Store food and other attractants in animal-proof containers with locking lids.
- If a bear attacks your pet, do not rush the bear and attempt to separate the animals. Make loud noises by shouting and clapping and, if available, spray the bear with a hose or throw objects at it while maintaining a safe distance. Once the bear leaves the area, retrieve your pet and leave the area. If your pet is injured, call your veterinarian for advice on effective treatment. Also, contact your state wildlife agency immediately. The agency will assess the threat and take appropriate action to deal with the offending animal.