Prevent Problems

Notice: Do Not Feed Bears

Most injuries associated with bear-human encounters result from people feeding bears or from bears feeding on human food sources.


Facts and Tips

Help us Make Asheville a Bear Smart Community

  • Fact: Bears in your neighborhood are not a cause for concern. Most bear problems are temporary, usually occurring in the spring and summer.
  • Fact: Bears will naturally investigate food odors. They are attracted to garbage, bird seed and suet, pet foods, compost piles and grease on barbecue grills.
  • Fact: No one traps and relocates problem bears. Best practices for bear management aim to encourage humans to modify habits to prevent problems and remove sources of attraction before problems occur.
  • Tip: Secure bags of trash inside cans and store these cans in a garage, basement, or other secure area.
  • Tip: Avoid putting trash cans out the night before pick-up days. On trash pick-up days, place trash outside, as late as possible. Keep all garbage sites clean.
  • Tip: If a bear is in the area, remove bird feeders and hummingbird feeders. Even if a bird feeder is advertised as “bear proof”, it is not safe to use near bears.
  • Tip: Do not leave pet foods out overnight. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are removed.
  • Tip: Clean all food and grease from barbecue grills after each use. Bears are attracted to food odors and may investigate.


Current Bear Problem

If you already have a problem with a bear:

  • Scent Repellents. Do not pour ammonia, bleach, or other chemicals into your cart. These chemicals can blind and injure bears, and also pose a danger to waste collection staff. Keep your cart clean by using pine-based cleaners, but avoid using anything with a fresh, lemony or fruity smell. 
  • Frighten the bear. Shouting, clapping, blasting a car horn or motion-sensitive lights may scare off a bear temporarily.
  • Do not approach the bear. Crowds of people can unnerve a bear, causing it to act unpredictably.
  • Install electric fencing. It may deter bears from approaching beehives, dumpsters, gardens, compost piles, or other potential food sources.
  • Compost food scraps. Sign up to use our free composting drop-off sites. Eliminating food scraps from trash greatly reduces chances of bears getting into trash. 
  • Consider reserving a bear resistant trash cart.
  • Have your own bear cart? You must register it here in order to receive City Sanitation Services.


Additional Information & Resources


Updated 6/5/2024