Mr Bear
Mr Bear (Photo credit: Todd Huffman)

I Can’t Bear It

Over the years I’ve taught many workshops on making and using compost. At the end of every compost workshop, I take questions from the audience. How to keep pests out of a compost bin is always a hot topic. A woman from the back row asked the ultimate pest question. “How can I keep bears out of my compost bin?” The woman used a plastic bin which screws into the ground. These bins are pretty sturdy but no match for a bear.

Everyone who deals with bears living in their immediate area knows that bears are drawn to food scraps in garbage cans and picnic areas, so a compost pile couldn’t totally be ruled out.

“Do you compost meat scraps?” I asked.

She answered, “No, I don’t use any food scraps. I just use grass clippings, weeds and leaves.”

Since we ruled out any food scraps, I had one more idea. “Please describe your lawn?” I asked.

“My lawn’s not in the best shape, it has some dead patches and mushy spots.”

It sounded like she had a grub problem. Grubs are a favorite food of bears. My advice to her was that she set her mower blades slightly higher and direct bag her grass clippings. Also, do not use any root systems or add soil. For the grub problem, I suggested she use Milky Spore on her lawn. (Milky Spore is beneficial bacteria that attack grubs.) That was several years ago and so far no more bear problems!

Have a great garden/animal story you’d like to share with our readers? Send it to me at


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