MISSOULA — As grizzly bears begin to emerge from their dens this spring in search of food, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other wildlife managers are asking for the help of residents and visitors in grizzly country to #KeepBearsWild. The Service reminds the public to remain vigilant and take proactive actions to avoid bear conflicts. Male grizzly bears tend to emerge from their dens in March and April, and females with cubs typically appear in April and May.
Residents and visitors in Montana, Wyoming, northeast Washington, and northern and eastern Idaho should be prepared for a grizzly encounter and work to prevent conflicts by following the tips below – preventing a conflict is always easier than dealing with one.
Keep Bears Wild – save the life of a bear (or your own):
Never approach bears, always stay at least 300 feet away
Store food, garbage, and other attractants with a scent in a bear-resistant place
Practice ethical wildlife viewing from a distance – never approach a bear
Never feed bears
Carry bear spray and know how to use it
Avoid recreating alone, stay on maintained trails and make noise
Avoid recreating at dusk, dawn, or night
Never run if you encounter a bear; learn how to handle an encounter
Know and follow public land regulations
Unsecured attractants such as trash or food are likely to habituate animals to human development and create dangerous human food-conditioned behavior. When this happens, bears may become aggressive and threaten human safety, regardless of their prior behavior. The actions, or inaction, of residents and visitors are crucial to coexisting with bears. To prevent bears from frequenting areas in and around residential areas and becoming food-conditioned:
Secure attractants – anything with an odor such as compost, trash, dog food, livestock food, birdseed, fruit trees, or beehives.
Use approved hazing techniques – don’t allow bears to feel comfortable near human-occupied dwellings. There are safe ways to tell a bear to move along by making noise, such as yelling, honking a horn, or banging pots/pans.
Report bear sightings, encounters, and conflicts immediately to your state or Tribal wildlife management agency.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to explore additional grizzly bear safety information available from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for residents, hikers/campers, hunters, and farmers/ranchers.