Grizzly Bear Season officially kicks off
Photo of a grizzly bear feeding on an elk carcas. National Park Service (NPS) photo.
Bears are emerging from their dens
by Wyoming Game & Fish
March 24, 2006
A recent grizzly bear sighting in the upper North Fork Shoshone River valley west of Cody is a clear indication that bears are emerging from their dens.
According to Grizzly Bear Conflict Officer Mark Bruscino with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, it is not unusual for some bears to emerge at this time of the year. "Typically, boars (males) emerge from their dens in mid-March and early April, while sows (females) and young of the year cubs emerge in late April and early May," said Bruscino.
Bears wander over the big game winter ranges in early spring searching for winter-killed deer and elk. With yet another mild winter, early emerging bears may find it difficult to find food and this could bring bears into conflict with people.
Bruscino cautions that now is the time to take the necessary precautions to avoid conflicts with bears.There were approximately 110 human-grizzly conflicts reported last year in Wyoming, resulting in seven human-caused bear mortalities. According to Bruscino many of those were related to improperly stored food and garbage. If you live in bear country Bruscino recommends keeping livestock feed and barbeque grills stored properly and bird feeders and dog bowls kept empty after dark.
The Game and Fish discourages antler hunting in grizzly country until after spring green-up in early May, however the competitive nature of antler hunting has some participants going afield in March. Bear encounters often occur when bears are surprised. In response to this surprise a bear may bluff charge. This behavior allows the bear to determine the seriousness of a threat. If it feels the need to eliminate the threat, it will charge.
When hiking, avoid having problems with bears by being cautious and alert. Make noise as you travel so bears can hear you. Approach areas from upwind to increase the opportunity for bears to smell you ahead of time. Learn to recognize areas of heavy bear use based upon tracks, scats, and diggings. If you smell a carcass, avoid it. Flocks of magpies, ravens or jays often indicate a carcass is nearby. Remember, when bears scavenge large animals they often cover what they can't eat with brush or dirt and may stay close by to defend it for several days.
Persons interested in bears, mountain lions and wolves are reminded "Staying Safe in Bear, Lion and Wolf Country" workshops will be held April 12 in Pinedale at the public library. The workshop runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Bruscino will lead the presentations, which features bear and mountain lion behavior and biology and what to do if you encounter a bear, lion or wolf. Safety and legal issues involving the animals along with the most current information on the use of pepper spray will also be discussed.