Grizzly Bears emerging
Itís not too early to encounter a Grizzly Bear
by Wyoming Game & Fish
March 20, 2007
Grizzly bear sightings in the upper South Fork Shoshone River valley, Sunlight Basin and the Beartooth Mountains in the Cody area since March 10 is clear indication that bears are emerging from their dens.
According to Grizzly Bear Management Officer Mark Bruscino of 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 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 increase the chance of conflicts with people.
Bruscino cautions that now is the time to take the necessary precautions to avoid conflicts with bears. "The majority of the people in and around Cody do a good job of keeping foods away from bears and although it seems early, it's never too early to become bear aware," Bruscino stated.
There were numerous human/grizzly conflicts reported last year in Wyoming resulting in property damage and dead bears.
Bruscino said many of those encounters were related to improperly stored food and garbage. If you live in bear country he recommends keeping livestock feed and barbeque grills stored properly and bird feeders and dog bowls kept empty after dark.
The Game and Fish recommends delaying antler hunting in grizzly country until after spring green-up in early May; however the competitive nature of antler hunting has some antler hunters beginning their search in early March.
Bear encounters often occur when bears are surprised. In response, a surprised 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. Veteran antler hunters understand the danger of their activity when searching for antlers in grizzly bear habitat.
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 also 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 from other bears for several days.
Commercial pepper sprays have been effective in stopping aggressive bears. Use bear pepper spray only as a deterrent and as a last resort to avoiding a physical encounter. Spraying an area or personal property with pepper spray to repel bears is not recommended.
To learn more about bears, consider attending the free Staying Safe in Bear, Lion and Wolf Country seminar March 21st from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Pinedale Library.