Bare Those Fruit Trees

Bare Those Fruit Trees: Making good use of excess fruit to reduce bear conflicts

By Jim Dyer, Healthy Food Community Systems


While it is clear that unsecured household trash is the main reason for bear conflicts with humans in some urban areas such as ours, ripened fruit left on or under trees is another attractant that could be largely avoided.  Gathered for human consumption, for livestock feed, or for composting, this “excess” fruit could be put to good use — truly a win-win solution.

Potential Benefits:

  • Fewer bear conflicts with urban dwellers.
  • Less waste fruit on streets and sidewalks.
  • More local food for human consumption.
  • Local livestock feed.
  • Local organic matter for compost.

Potential Uses:

  • Fruit tree owners harvest edible fruit for their own families and friends.
  • Local gleaners harvest edible fruit for low-income people in our community.

La Plata Extension & Cooking Matter’s Project Produce Bounty program in mid-Sept might be a venue.

  • Edible apples collected for Apple Days as in the past.
  • Over-ripe fruit collected for livestock feed. (Dan James agrees that this can be a good feed.)
  • Over-ripe fruit collected for composting, most likely outside urban areas

Making it Work:

  • Promotions in the media, in prep for Apple Days, and Project Produce Bounty, and with local food and agriculture groups for fruit tree owners and their neighbors to do this themselves.
  • Notification process for letting potential gleaners know of fruit available from willing owners: website bulletin board, social media, free classifieds in newspapers (available now).
  • Organized gleaning groups, composters, entrepreneurs, etc. take on this work.

From Bryan Peterson of Bear Smart Durango:

Another concern is bears damaging, or destroying, fruit trees by tearing off limbs. People don’t appreciate this. Best solutions:  1) protecting trees with electric fencing, (county residents only), or getting the fruit off the tree before it ripens. Any fallen fruit should be picked up so as to not accustom bears to be hanging around yards.