Living with Black Bears in Kentucky

Black bears have returned to Kentucky. When visiting the Daniel Boone National Forest, it is important to take appropriate safety precautions.

We can avoid conflicts with bears by never approaching or feeding them. Human behavior plays a significant role in the behavior of bears. If you see a bear acting aggressively or charging, call 1-800-25-ALERT.

Remember: You are responsible for your safety.

Avoid Attracting Bears to...

Campgrounds and Picnic Areas

  • Keep a clean site by properly disposing of food scraps and garbage;
  • Do not leave food or garbage inside fire rings, grills or around your site;
  • Never leave food or coolers unattended;
  • Where bear-proof containers are not available, store food and garbage inside a vehicle or camper trailer;
  • Never store food inside your tent;
  • Wipe tabletops clean before vacating your site;
  • If a bear is observed nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately;
  • If a bear approaches you, move away slowly and get into a vehicle or secure area.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you can reduce food odors that attract bears by...

Food Storage in Bear Country

The Backcountry

  • Hang food, garbage and anything with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from a tree or limb; use special food storage boxes and cable systems if available;
  • Eat and cook food up to 100 yards away from your tent;
  • Avoid camping and hiking alone in backcountry;
  • Make noise to avoid surprising a bear;
  • Never approach a bear or other wild animal;
  • Do not hike in the dark;
  • If a bear approaches you, back away slowly; do not run;
  • Carry EPA registered bear pepper spray;
  • Pack out trash; do not bury it.

Hiking Trails

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return;
  • Hike with a group;
  • Carry EPA registered bear pepper spray;
  • Read all signs at the trailhead;
  • Keep children close at hand;
  • Make your presence known by making some noise;
  • Hike during daylight hours and stay on the trail;
  • Watch for bear signs: scat, claw marks, digging, logs or stumps torn apart, etc;
  • Avoid taking pets in areas with know bear activity; they may attract bears to you.

Residential Areas

  • Never store food or garbage outdoors;
  • Do not leave pet food outside, especially overnight;
  • Do not feed birds from April to November, unless the feeders are out of bears’ reach and have spill pans to prevent seeds from reaching the ground;
  • Keep outdoor grills clean; when not in use, store grills inside a garage or building;
  • Bear-proof bee hives, compost piles and gardens with electric or chain-link fence;
  • Pick fruit from trees as it ripens; do not leave fruit on the ground;
  • Do not leave food as bait for any animals or dispose of food scraps outdoors;
  • If a bear approaches, move your family indoors immediately.