There is news out of Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. In Yellowstone National Park, the first confirmed grizzly bear sighting has taken place for 2020. The event occurred on March 7th when the bear was spotted by biologists from the air using a radio telemetry flight close to Grand Prismatic Spring. The sighting for 2020 was only one day earlier than last year’s first sighting.
In March, male grizzlies leave hibernation. The females stay in hibernation with the cubs until April or early May. After the bears come out of hibernation, they start looking for food and they often start with bison or elk that died over the winter. There are occasions when bears act aggressively while feeding on those carcasses.
If you are in any part of Yellowstone National Park, you are in bear country. It doesn’t matter if you are hiking in the backcountry or walking around Old Faithful, it’s a good idea to be aware of the possibility for bears and protect yourself using these guidelines:
– 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 a 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.
“Now that bears are emerging from winter dens, visitors should be excited for the chance to view and photograph them, but they should also treat bears with respect and caution,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist. “Many visitors think bears are ravenously hungry and more likely to attack people for food after emerging from hibernation, but almost all bear attacks result from surprise encounters when hikers startle bears at close distances and the bears react with defensive aggression. Hikers, skiers, and snowshoers should travel in groups of three or more, carry bear spray, and make noise.”
It is not illegal to have a firearm in the park, but if you are a visitor and discharge a firearm, you’re going against regulations. One effective way of deterring bears defending their cubs or food sources is by the use of bear spray. This can also reduce how many bears are killed by people in self-defense.
When there is a high density of bison and elk carcasses, there may be restrictions placed on visitors’ activities in the area. Restrictions will begin in some of those bear management areas starting on March 10th, 2020.
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