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The Bear Facts: Dens
Georgia bear in a den

Bear den locations may surprise you

When you think about a bear den, what comes to mind? A hollow tree? A cozy cave? How about a pile of abandoned tires? Or under your porch? Bears can den up in all those places and many more.

Bears are flexible, creative and opportunistic; they will crawl into dens just about anywhere they feel safe and out of sight.

bear denning up a treeThe stereotypical hollow tree makes a favorite den site as they are snug enough to conserve body heat but often there are no mature trees or large snags available. Ground dens are much more popular than you might think; they can be excavations done by the bear or insulating piles of whatever Mother Nature (or people) provide.

That can be a log on the forest floor, a rock outcropping, a thicket along a creek bottom, a pile of brush, logging slash or downed trees or an excavated area where people have done some of the work. There are documented cases of big bears simply lying down on the forest floor until they were buried in a blizzard of fallen leaves…and eventually snow.

Bear Biologists Share Surprising Den Stories

One Kentucky bear denned under an old piece of mining equipment that had been abandoned up on a mountain. A mother bear in West Virginia that denned up in the cloverleaf of an interstate became a YouTube sensation when she tried to exit with her newborn cubs in the spring.

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Being BearWise Helps Bears


Three steps to discourage bears from denning in or around your home.

  1. Close and lock pet doors, sheds, root cellars and outbuildings.
  2. Check under porches and decks for areas and openings where bears might curl up. Barricade as best you can.
  3. Don’t leave garbage, bird feeders or birdseed or food meant for deer or squirrels where bears can access it. Teaching bears to rely on human-provided food is bad for people and bears.
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