Grizzly Bears Stirring Awake

By Beacon Staff

Montana’s hibernating grizzly bears are stirring awake, according to reported sightings across the state.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is reminding residents that adult males are emerging from winter dens and seeking food sources. The food-depleted bears can react aggressively if they’re surprised while feeding.

Every year beginning in mid-March, adult males focus on finding carrion, like winter-killed elk and deer, for a quick boost of energy. Grizzlies are also often tempted to go where black bear, raccoons and domestic dogs are getting into garbage. If these species are already causing problems nearby, consider it an early warning that food attractants are available and need to be removed, FWP warned in a news release last week.

Bear experts stress that conflict prevention steps can greatly reduce the chances of attracting a grizzly bear. FWP recommends bear-resistant bins in communities and on ranches; electric fence systems to protect bee yards and sheep bedding grounds; random redistribution of livestock carcasses each spring; and educational programs in schools and communities.

FWP’s Be Bear Aware website at fwp.mt.gov is an easy way for homeowners and landowners to assess what they need to do to prevent bear conflicts. Visit the site for tips and tools on obtaining and using bear spray, safe camping and hiking, access to bear resistant produce and a guide to the many food-related and other items that attract bears to a property.

Park officials reported seeing grizzly bears emerging from their dens at Yellowstone National Park last week.

Park officials say that as grizzlies come out of hibernation, people should stay in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay at least 100 yards from black and grizzly bears.

For more information about being “Bear Aware,” http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware.

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