Black bears are naturally curious, and programmed to explore anything new in their territory in hopes of finding a new food source. If you’re building in bear country, the local bruins are sure to know – and come and check out the new home you’re building in their backyard.

But bears seldom venture far from cover, as their normal response to danger is to flee, or climb a tree. To discourage bear exploration, pick a building site out in the open, away from meadow edges, streams and obvious wildlife trails.

Avoid planting fruit trees or berry-producing bushes, trees or shrubs close to your house. If you have your heart set on flowering trees, check with a local nursery or university extension office for trees that flower, but don’t fruit. In many areas flowering snow crabs fit the bill nicely.

Bears are intelligent, resourceful and adaptable. Do your part to be bear smart and your bears will be the best kind of neighbors: seldom seen, and never dropping by to borrow things they have no intention of returning.

To read more practical tips for coexisting with bears, get Linda Masterson’s book, Living With Bears, by clicking here.