Hunters urged to use caution in griz country
Whitebark pine cones abundant in high country this year
by Wyoming Game & Fish
September 1, 2006
Whitebark pine cone production was abundant this summer, according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team - which is good news for bears and people.
The seeds of whitebark pine are high in fat and are an important fall food as bears prepare for winter hibernation. Bears obtain cones by raiding caches, called "middens," made by red squirrels.
Grizzly bears use whitebark pine seed as food almost exclusively during years in which mean cone production exceeds 20 cones per tree. The good cone production this year means that hunters and other outdoor recreationists should be aware that bears would be searching for middens in mid- to high-elevation conifer stands that contain whitebark pine.
Hunters are urged to use caution when hunting in whitebark stands and to watch for obvious signs of recent bear activity, such as tracks, scats and disturbed squirrel middens. Grizzly bears have been known to defend squirrel middens from other bears - and people.
Successful hunters are also urged to pack their big game carcass out as soon as possible after the kill. If hunters must leave all or some of the meat, they should separate the meat from the gut pile and hang the meat in a tree, at least 10 feet high and four feet from the trunk. Actions such as these can help reduce human-bear conflicts that result in bear mortality, and sometimes human injury.
Hunters and other recreationists should comply with food storage regulations in camps, and leave a clean camp when they vacate a site. Unburned garbage in a fire ring or extra horse cubes on the ground could create a problem for the next user. Bears will find these leavings and use them, and may become conditioned to the site.