CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department alerted the Bureau of Land Managment Cody Field Office that there has been significant grizzly bear activity at the Bobcat- Houlihan Trailhead, located approximately 30 miles southwest of Cody via Wyoming State Highway 291 (the South Fork Highway).
Wednesday night, a grizzly sow and cubs broke into a pickup with a shell on the bed and pulled out a deer carcass. Officials are asking people to be extra vigilant if you are hunting or otherwise recreating in that area – it’s Bear Country.
Hunting & Fishing in Bear Country
Hunters and Fishermen need to take extra precautions when recreating in bear country. Due to the nature of these activities we are predisposed to bear encounters or conflicts. As sportsmen it is our responsibility to behave appropriately in bear country …………This information can greatly reduce the chances of a human/bear conflict.
Why hunters and fishermen are at risk of bear encounters
- They quietly pursue game in the field or fish next to loud rivers and streams.
- Masking of human scent and moving into the wind.
- Being active during dusk and dawn.
- Use of game calls.
- Handling of big game carcasses or fish.
How to avoid bear encounters
- Always hunt or call with a partner and stay within sight of each other.
- Remain alert and watchful for bear activity; avoid “tunnel vision” while pursuing game.
- Learn to recognize bear sign such as scat, tracks, and diggings.
- Know where seasonal food sources are present and either avoid or be especially cautious in those areas.
- Be aware that the presence of ravens and other scavengers is a good indication that carcasses or gut piles are nearby and a bear may be in the area.
- Carry a defense readily accessible. The knowledge of how to use your defense should be automatic.
Proper handling and retrieval of game
- The best way to minimize conflicts over a carcass is to pack and remove the game meat out of the field as quickly as possible. The longer game is in the field, at camp, or in the back of a vehicle the more likely it is to be discovered by a bear.
- Separate the carcass from the gut pile with as much distance as possible.
- Quarter and hang the carcass in a tree at least 10’ to 15’ from the ground and 4’ from the tree trunk.
- If you must leave the carcass on the ground, place it in plain view so when you return, you can see if a bear is present or if it has been disturbed prior to making your approach. Placing something conspicuous on the carcass that may help you detect if there has been a bear at the carcass. For example branches or an article of clothing that can easily be seen from a long distance.
- When returning to a carcass that has been left overnight, use caution. Stop and view the carcass from a distance with binoculars. Approach the carcass upwind and make sufficient noise to alert a bear of your presence.
- If you detect disturbance from a distance or if the carcass has been buried, a bear has probably been to the carcass or may be bedded nearby.
- Never attempt to scare a bear off of a carcass it has claimed.
- In camp, store game meat, capes, and dirty tools/clothes at least 100 yards from your sleeping area and preferably down wind.
- Clean fish at designated cleaning station or at home. Wash all your gear to ensure there are no desirable odors for future use.
In most situation bears will avoid humans. If you encounter a bear in the field and it does not avoid you, you need to determine if the bear is exhibiting predatory or aggressive/defensive behavior. In most situations, grizzly bears act defensively to protect theirpersonal space, a food source, or their offspring. A defensive bear often displays stress behaviors such as moaning, woofing, jaw popping, or paw swatting. Remember, the bear is acting aggressively to defend something and if you are not perceived as a threat, the bear should leave the area.
What to do if you encounter an aggressive/defensive bear at close range
- Try to remain calm, slowly back out of the area, and have a defense ready.
- Never run away from the bear.
- Do not challenge the bear with any aggressive body language or direct eye contact.
- If the bear begins to approach, stand your ground and use bear spray if available.
- If a bear makes contact or is about to make contact, drop and cover by lying flat on your stomach and inter-lacing your fingers and placing them on the back of your neck. Do not fight back.
- Once the bear feels the threat is neutralized it will stop attacking.
Unlike defensive bear attacks, a bear that is acting in a predatory manner is NOT defending anything. Predatory behavior is often recognized when a bear appears to be intensely interested in you or deliberately approaches you without displaying any stress behaviors. If a bear enters your tent, it is behaving in a predatory manner. In a predatory bear attack, you should fight back by any means necessary, do NOT drop and cover!
What do if the bear is acting predatory
- Do not back away from the bear but instead stand your ground.
- Act aggressively towards the bear.
- Make yourself look as big as possible by holding your arms out and using your coat and standing on a log or rock.
- Yell at the bear in a loud firm voice.
- Use branches and rocks to deter the bear.
- Use bear spray or a weapon to protect yourself.