If you're spending any time in the backcountry, keep your eyes peeled for bears! Wikipedia Photo.
Now avalanches aren’t the only thing you need to consider when heading to the backcountry, add grizzly bears to that list. Despite an incredible winter, with the most snowfall we’ve ever seen in Jackson during the month of February alone, bears are out and ready to eat. According to Buckrail, the first grizzly of 2019 was spotted on March 8th between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, Grizzly tracks were found between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction only three days later.
Considering all the snow, it is likely that many of the bears will scurry back to their dens until it’s easier to hunt. Still, it is a sign of what’s to come. Males are the first to wake up, whereas females with their cubs start scooting around April and early May.
These sightings will only increase as we move into spring. Naturally, everyone is a little cranky when they first wake up, and bears are no different. Initially, these bears will be rather lethargic from their snooze but can be particularly aggressive when it comes to feeding. So like always, give them their space. Should you encounter a bear in the wild, here are some tips to staying safe.
- Prepare for a bear encounter.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
- Stay alert.
- Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.
- Do not run if you encounter a bear.
- Stay 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
- Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
- Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
- Learn more about bear safety.
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