Sheriff’s Office Encourages High-Country Hunters To Be ‘Bear Aware’

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WYOMING — In light of a Rock Springs man reported attacked by a grizzly bear on Monday in the Teton Wilderness, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging Sweetwater County hunters who venture north into grizzly country to be “bear aware.”

Sheriff Mike Lowell said that many county residents hunt in areas within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem identified by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department as frequented by grizzly bears.  Officials estimate the grizzly population there to be about 600 animals.

These areas include the Shoshone National Forest, east and southeast of Yellowstone National Park, and much of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  (Refer to the 2016 Wyoming Game & Fish Department map, shown here, that depicts the area known to be frequented by grizzlies.  Authorities note that grizzlies may be present outside of known distribution areas.)

Grizzly bear distribution map as of 2016 from the website of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. The Game & Fish Department notes that grizzlies may be present outside of known distribution areas.
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Hunters in bear country can be particularly vulnerable to bear encounters, as they are moving quietly, are often moving during dawn and dusk hours, and use game calls.  Officials’ recommendations to minimize the chance of dangerous human-bear encounters in grizzly country include the following:

– Hunt with a partner.

– Remain alert always for the presence of bears.

– Carry and know how to use bear spray and carry it where it is swiftly accessible – not inside a pack.

– Learn to recognize bear sign such as tracks and scat.

– Retrieve downed game quickly and be particularly alert for approaching bears while field dressing your game.

– Make noise while packing out your game and avoid packing out meat at night.

Lowell said a great deal of information on grizzly bears, grizzly bear management, and staying safe in bear country can be found at the Wyoming Game & Fish Department website.

The use of bear spray and other defensive tactics, including firearms, are discussed in detail on the website of the United States Geological Survey at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3018/pdf/FS09-3018.pdf

As reported by the Associated Press, James Moore, 41, of Rock Springs, was hunting with two others when he was attacked on September 25 by a grizzly sow with two cubs. According to the AP, “Teton County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Matt Carr tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that Moore heard the brush rustling right next to him and the next thing he knew the bear was attacking him.”

Moore suffered severe lacerations and bite marks and was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, for treatment. His two companions were not reported injured.