Bear Activity Resumes
Contact: Nash, (307) 344-2010
Contact: Vallie, (307) 344-2012
It may still look and feel like winter, but there are signs of bears emerging from their dens. Grizzly tracks have been discovered in a few locations in the southern portion of the park, beginning as early as February 28. There was an aerial sighting of a grizzly today in the Indian Creek drainage area.
Soon after emerging from their dens, bears begin looking for food. Bears are attracted to elk and bison that have died over the winter. Elk and bison are such a prized source of food that bears will aggressively defend these carcasses. Anyone disturbing a bear feeding on a carcass puts themselves at serious risk for injury.
Park regulations require you to stay a hundred yards – the length of a football field – away from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use your binoculars, telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look. Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, and keep an eye out for bears. Bear pepper spray has proven to be a good last line of defense if you keep it handy and use it according to directions when the bear is within 30 to 40 feet.
Yellowstone National Park has several seasonal Bear Management Area closures designed to reduce encounters with bears in areas that have a high density of elk and bison carcasses. These closures help prevent human/bear conflicts and provide areas where bears can roam free from human disturbance. Prior to hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing in the park, ask at park visitor centers for dates and locations of bear closures.
Visitors are also reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.
Bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.