Protect your livestock from black bears

Black bears are expanding their range in Massachusetts. Here is everything you need to know to protect your livestock from black bears.

Overview

  • Avoid pasturing animals in remote areas, areas with nearby heavy wooded cover, or areas with wooded gullies or other pathways which bears may use.
  • Do not leave carcasses of dead animals exposed in fields. You should bury or incinerate them.
  • Livestock feed attracts bears. Store feed in secure outbuildings protected by electric fencing or in a bear-proof container. Avoid feeding livestock in a confined pen which a bear may enter.
  • When possible, pen livestock in or near a barn at night. Avoid field-birthing if possible, or clean areas by removing any afterbirth.
  • Do not place supplemental foods nearby as a distraction. This can attract or habituate bears and is counterproductive.
  • Consider the use of guard animals.
  • Contact local bear hunters to hunt in your fields. The early September bear season coincides with the peak of bear-caused crop damage. Contact a MassWildlife District Office or a local sportsmans’ club to connect with bear hunters.
  • In some instances, permitted houndsmen may use bear hounds to chase bears away from livestock they are damaging. This relief may be temporary. Contact a MassWildlife District Office or the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 1 (800) 632-8075 for more information.

Additional Resources

Property damage

  • If you are (or anticipate) suffering property damage caused by a bear, please contact the nearest MassWildlife District Office right away. MassWildlife biologists will provide you with advice that can lessen the problem.
  • Under certain circumstances, landowners, tenants, members of their immediate families, or persons permanently employed by them may kill a bear that is caught in the act of damaging their property. When authorized, lethal measures against bears may only be employed in accordance with provisions of Chapter 131, Section 37, Massachusetts General Laws. Bears taken in this manner must immediately be reported to the Environmental Police at 1 (800) 632-8075. A written report detailing the number/species taken under Sec. 37 must be submitted by January 31 of the following year.

Additional Resources

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