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Do Bears Attack Chickens? How to Protect Your Flock

Oliver Jones

For the chicken keeper who shares a space with bears, protecting your flock can be a tricky endeavor. While bears may not seek chickens as their top source of food, bears are opportunistic hunters who will eat anything they can easily catch.

Your chickens might be tempting if a hungry bear strolls by, even more so if they’re easy for the bears to get to. Keep reading to learn more about what bears eat and the simple steps you can take to try to keep your chickens safe from bears.


Where Do You Need to Worry About Bear Attacks?

The bears most commonly seen throughout the United States are Black Bears. They live along both coasts and in some inland areas. As humans have encroached on their natural habitats, bears have become increasingly desperate for places to live and eat. This has led to more bear sightings in residential areas as they hunt for food and shelter.

brown bear with its catch
Image Credit: Pixabay

What Do Bears Eat?

Bears are omnivores. This means they will eat a little of everything. Common foods in the wild that bears like to feast on include:

  • Berries
  • Fish
  • Insects and larvae
  • Grass
  • Succulent plants
  • Roots
  • Meat

Bears will kill young deer, moose, and elk, although it’s rare for them to kill the adults of those species. Along with wild animals, bears will hunt and kill livestock, especially smaller animals like sheep, goats, and yes, chickens.

Tips For Keeping Chickens Safe

Bears are attracted to several things found on human property, including:

  • Human garbage
  • Fruit trees
  • Pet and livestock food

Once it arrives on your property, a bear will eat anything that it can get its paws on. To keep your chickens safe, it’s recommended that you:

  • Keep your yard free from garbage and other debris that can attract the attention of a hungry bear. This goes for your compost pile as well. Keep it far away from your chickens.
  • Store your chickens’ food in a secure place, such as a barn or garage so the bears have a harder time sniffing it out.
  • Using motion-sensing lights in your yard can also discourage return visits from hungry bears as they’ll startle the bears when they enter your property
  • Relocate beehives to areas away from your chicken coop. Bears love honey and will try to get to the beehives around your chickens.
a chicken coop
Image Credit: Pixabay

Even if you do these things, bears may still get into your yard and eat your chickens. They can easily scale wooden fences and are notorious for remembering where they’ve found food in the past.

One solution to try is to put electric fencing around the chicken coop. This may help discourage bears from eating your chickens and they’ll instead move on to other, more easily accessible food choices.

If the problem gets too big, you can contact a wildlife control expert who may be able to recommend other solutions for your problem.


Final Thoughts

Bears are opportunistic omnivores which means they’ll happily eat any food they can get their paws on. The chickens and eggs in your coop are tasty and easy-to-catch treats. Once a bear knows you have food, both chicken and otherwise, available for them to scoop up they’re highly likely to return in search of more.

Featured Image Credit: LTapsaH, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.