SWEETWATER COUNTY – In light of two recent bear attacks in Wyoming, one of them fatal, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging Sweetwater County hunters who venture north into grizzly country to be “bear aware.”
Sheriff Rich Haskell 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 2010 Wyoming Game & Fish Department map, shown here, that depicts the area known to be frequented by grizzlies. As the Department indicates, it should be noted that grizzlies may be present outside of known distribution areas.)
On September 12, the body of a Utah man killed by a bear was found north of Dubois near a bear’s cache of game carcasses. Less than 10 days later, a Wyoming hunter was attacked by a sow grizzly with cubs in the Horse Creek drainage, also in the Dubois area. The hunter was accompanied by a partner carrying bear spray, who sprayed the sow. The bear stopped the attack and retreated and the two men were able to leave the area to get medical attention. The hunter suffered injuries from a bite to his side, but those injuries are not considered life-threatening.
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.
Haskell 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 at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wildlife-1000674.aspx.
The use of bear spray and other defensive tactics, including firearms, are discussed in detail on the website of the United States Geological Survey athttp://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3018/pdf/FS09-3018.pdf.