I had two bears (fairly large chocolate brown and fairly small with lots of blond highlights) wander through here about 2 hours apart last Saturday afternoon sniffing the birdfeeder. I popped both in the butt with rubber 12-gauge buckshot rounds I got earlier from Bob Holder of Colorado Division of Wildlife. Both went from 0 to 60 in under 2 and haven't been seen again (at least not from my deck).
A third (medium size blond) appeared Monday afternoon. Out of ammo because Bob only gave me two. I threw rocks and yelled and it grunted a few times and reluctantly ambled off. Bob gave me two more shotshells Tuesday.
Monday's bear, or its twin, reappeared Wednesday afternoon. I shot at it but oak brush jumped up between me and its posterior and probably deflected the BBs. It returned within an hour and demolished the feeder. But I also had a better shot then. Like the two on Saturday, it hit the trail at a high rate of speed when the BBs bit the bum. Will be interesting to see whether or not it returns.
Anecdotally, at least, it looks like rubber buckshot might be effective in convincing bruins that porches and decks aren't the best places to hang but are really just a pain in the butt. I don't think noise from shooting the round means anything because Wednesday's bear returned very shortly after the first, ineffective shot. But the BBs definitely got its attention the second time.
The rubber rounds apparently have a very small powder charge, absolutely no recoil, and aren't very loud. However, they seem quite dirty and leave a lot of residue in the gun barrel. Bob doesn't have a huge supply and hands them out pretty much two by two.
I once priced rubber loads at BigR and believe I was told that they would special order for something in the range of $2-3 each. Non-lethal loads like these are also sold through law enforcement supply companies on-line for as much as $3.75 per round.
I've since found an on-line gun/ammunition auction website (looks just like eBay) where I bought a box of 25 (same brand as Bob hands out) for about $1 each, including S+H. I've got the site address and the address and phone number of the dealer who listed them for auction if you or anyone else is interested.
Gotta go and rebuild the birdfeeder. Regards-
Joanne Roundy supplied the photo shown above. Seems that bear considered climbing 30-feet up the tree and then out 8-feet on a branch to get at her feeder. The drought's been pretty hard on most wildlife here and they're all scrounging for something to eat and drink.