By Kris Inman Wildlife Conservation Society

It is the time of year to be thankful, and in Big Sky there is a lot to be thankful for. The natural beauty and amenities that bring us to live and recreate here also provide suitable habitat for healthy populations of black bears, as well as grizzly bears as they continue to expand their range beyond Yellowstone National Park.

The great smells of your Thanksgiving feast will draw the remaining bears, still fattening up prior to hibernation, for their last call of food before heading to their winter dens. If you’re frying a turkey, remember that grease is a strong attractant—the same is true for your turkey carcass. Store cooled fryers inside after use and dispose of grease, and the turkey carcass, in a bear-resistant trash can to keep bruins from getting into trouble.

Trash left on top of a container is not something bears will be thanking you for. Access to garbage can condition bears to seek out anthropogenic food and become bolder—including breaking into cars and walking through open garage doors. Eventually, this will put both you and the animal in danger. Ensure that garbage is placed inside the trash can and it’s latched properly.

If you don’t have a bear-resistant can, keep trash indoors before your scheduled pickup, or better yet, convert to a bear-resistant can from L&L Site Services or Republic Services. It’s approximately $7 more per month to make this change, and bears will be thankful for this small concession to keep them wild.

Don’t forget to post photos of bear sightings and check in with Bernadette Bear on Instagram @bearsmartbigsky and #bernadettebear. Help support Bernadette in her campaign to create a more bear-safe and bear-aware community in Big Sky.