Prepare for bears

Prepare for bears

April 2, 2013

It might not feel like it, depending on where you are in Wyoming, but its spring time and that means the bears are emerging from hibernation.

In Grand Teton National Park, some of Wyoming’s most famous bears should be emerging with young. The Grand Teton National Park Foundation reported a park biologist said Grizzly Bear No. 610 should emerge with her 2 year-old cubs. The cubs will likely wean during spring or early summer, the foundation’s newsletter reported.

Kelsey Dayton
Kelsey Dayton

Grizzly bear No. 399, one of the park’s most photographed bears, could come out with a new batch of cubs. She weaned her yearlings a year earlier than normal in 2012. Bears with new young are usually the last ones to emerge from their dens.

Meanwhile adult males are the first out of their dens. By mid-March usually 50 percent of adult males have come out. Grand Teton had its first reported grizzly bear tracks March 15. Since then, there have been bear sightings in the park, as well as in Yellowstone National Park.

Tracks have been observed in the Jackson and Cody areas. The timing follows normal behavior, said Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator with the Wyoming Game and Fish in a press release.

That means it’s time to start being bear aware and packing your bear spray, whether you are still traveling by skis and snowshoes, or venturing out for early season hiking. While firearms are allowed in national parks, discharging firearms is a violation of regulations, a release from Yellowstone said. Even park law enforcement rangers who carry firearms relay on bear spray as the most effective way to deal with bear encounters, the release said.

Don't forget to carry your bear spray on your next outing. Grizzly bears are emerging from hibernation. (Photo by Jackie Skaggs/Grand Teton National Park)
Don’t forget to carry your bear spray on your next outing. Grizzly bears are emerging from hibernation. (Photo courtesy Jackie Skaggs/Grand Teton National Park)

In early spring bears frequent big game winter range looking for winter-killed deer and elk and can react aggressively if surprised while feeding. In recent years, grizzlies have expanded their areas as the population has grown. People should remember that grizzlies might be present in areas they didn’t use to frequent. In the national parks people are asked to report bear sightings to the nearest visitor or ranger station

Last year there were 213 human-grizzly bear conflicts reported in the Jackson, Pinedale, Lander and Cody areas, DeBolt said. In most cases the bears obtained human food, livestock or pet food or garbage in developed areas, but didn’t interact with people.

Be prepared

Adult males are the first bears to emerge. Females with cubs come out of hibernation later in the spring. (Photo Courtesy Gary Pollock, Grand Teton National Park).
Adult males are the first bears to emerge. Females with cubs, like grizzly No. 610 pictured above with a cub two years ago,  come out of hibernation later in the spring. (Photo courtesy Gary Pollock/ Grand Teton National Park).

If you live in bear country, secure garbage. Clean barbecue grills and store in a shed or garage if possible. Access to human food and garbage can be a death sentence for bears. If they lose fear of people they often become nuisances and safety concerns.

Don’t approach bears. Use binoculars, a spotting scope or a telephoto lens to get a closer look.

If you recreate in bear country hike in a group and make noise. Learn to recognize tracks and scat. Avoid carcasses. Carry bear spray in easily accessible spot and know how to use it.

To make sure you are ready for summer recreating in Wyoming, check out Wyoming Game and Fish’s bear, lion and wolf seminars which focus on how to react in encounters with these predators. Presentations include behavior, biology, population information and safety, legal issues and the most current information on using bear spray. Seminars are free and open to all ages.

Sheridan: 6 to 8 p.m. April 3, Sheridan College, C-TEL Hall, 3059 Coffeen Ave.

Farson-Eden: 6 to 8 p.m. April 4, Farson-Eden Community Center, 4039 Highway 191.

Lander: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 10, Fremont County Library 200 Amoretti St.

Powell: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 11, Northwest College, Fagerberg Building, Room 70, 231 West Sixth Street.

Rawlins: 6 to 8 p.m. April 11, Jeffrey Memorial Center 315 W. Pine Street.

Cody: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. April 14, Park County Library, 1500 Heart Mountain Street.

Casper: 7 to 9 p.m. April 15, Game and Fish regional Office, 3030 Energy Lane, Suite 100.

Pinedale: 6 to 8 p.m. April 24, Sublette County Library, 155 S. Tyler Ave.

Jackson: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 25, Snow King Resort, Grand View Lodge, 400 East Snow King Ave.

— “Peaks to Plains” is a blog focusing on Wyoming’s outdoors and communities. Kelsey Dayton is a freelance writer based in Lander. She has been a journalist in Wyoming for seven years, reporting for the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Casper Star-Tribune and the Gillette News-Record. Contact Kelsey at Follower her on twitter @Kelsey_Dayton

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Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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