Bears Are Coming Out of Hibernation: Be Bear Aware This Spring and Summer

Bears are beginning to awaken this spring, so the Wyoming Game and Fish Department urges outdoor enthusiasts to be ready.

CHEYENNE — As winter subsides and spring begins, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds outdoor recreationalists and rural homeowners in northwest Wyoming to be bear aware while enjoying the outdoors Wyoming has to offer.

Game and Fish Bear Wise Coordinator Dusty Lasseter said by this time of year, some bears have emerged from their dens. “Typically, male bears emerge from their dens in mid-March and early April, while females and young-of-the-year cubs emerge in late April and early May.

With grizzly bears being active in the Greater Yellowstone Area and black bears be being active statewide, now is the time to be bear aware and take the necessary precautions to avoid potential conflicts.”

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Conflict Situations

Game and Fish strives to manage conflict resolution between people and large carnivores, as well as quantifying and evaluating how situations occur.  

“In most conflict situations, bears do not interact with people. Rather they go after food attractants like unsecured human foods, livestock or pet foods, garbage or birdseed,” Lasseter said.

If you live in black or grizzly bear country, Lasseter recommends keeping food attractants properly stored and unavailable to bears. Barbecue grills should be kept clean and stored in a garage or shed when possible.  

“The majority of the people in rural areas of northwest Wyoming do an excellent job of securing attractants away from bears, but it’s important to remain vigilant to minimize the potential for conflict,” Lasseter said.

Those who recreate in bear country also need to be aware of the potential for encounters with bears. When recreating in bear habitat, be cautious and alert. Hike in a group and make noise as you travel so bears can hear you.

Learn to recognize areas of heavy bear use by knowing how to identify tracks, scats and diggings, and if you smell a carcass, avoid it. Flocks of magpies or ravens often indicate a nearby potential food source for bears.

Bear Necessities

Remember, when bears scavenge large animals they often cover what they can’t eat with brush or dirt and may stay nearby for several days to defend it from other bears.

Commercially available bear spray is effective for stopping aggressive bears. Use bear spray only as a deterrent and as a last resort to avoiding a physical encounter. Carry bear spray in a readily accessible manner and make sure the spray is EPA approved.  

“Those recreating and living in grizzly bear country have done an exceptional job increasing awareness and taking the necessary precautions to provide for the long-term viability of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” Lasseter said.

“Without the proactive measures and awareness already in place, we would not be where we are at today with grizzly bear management and conservation in Wyoming, and for that the people who live, work and recreate in grizzly bear country should be commended for their efforts.”

For more information on how to stay safe in bear country visit the Bear Wise Wyoming website.