Russ Talmo, with Defenders of Wildlife, building an electric fence. Electric fences keep bears away from people's property.

Russ Talmo, with Defenders of Wildlife, building an electric fence. Electric fences keep bears away from people’s property.

Photo courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife

Many of the ways to stay safe in grizzly country apply to what you already do in black bear country – with some variations. Here are a few tips for being in grizzly bear country.

A few tips:

Clean up camping sites in the backcountry and always secure your food, wear bear bells and carry bear spray. At home, secure or put away possible food in your backyard: garbage cans, fruit trees, dog food, bird feeders and recycling containers.

To keep grizzly bears off your property, many Montanans say electric fencing is the way to go. With the financial help of the some advocacy groups, hobby farmers in the state can fence in their chicken coops or smaller orchards.

Not many large ranching operations use electric fences because it can get pretty expensive. Some ranchers do secure their lambing grounds.

The conservation group Defenders of Wildlife will help people pay for and set up electric fences.

“Electric fencing is tough love because they are meant to hurt but they’re not meant to injure,” said Russ Talmo, who works with the Defenders’ fence program.

The fence does hurt. (Talmo would know. He’s tested it out.) Bears lead with their noses — and it’s a pretty big shock to the head. Talmo said they’ve seen grizzly bears back off once an electric fence is installed.

“One farmer told me, ‘It sure beats, you know, sleeping on your porch with your shotgun.’ And he’s right. Having to be less diligent about it yourself all the time and letting the fence do the work and that kind of the heavy lifting is pretty nice,” Talmo said.