Bears out of Hibernation in Grand Teton & Rockefeller Parkway

grizzly_Jackie Skaggs_June 2011
Bears are out of hibernation and appropriate precautions are advised for visitors recreating in Grand Teton & the Rockefeller Parkway.

Photo by: Jackie Skaggs, public affairs officer

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News Release Date: March 23, 2015

Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

Bears are out of hibernation and active again in both Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Now that bears are awake, appropriate precautions must be taken. Park visitors and local residents need to exercise common sense and good judgment, stay alert, and follow these recommended safety precautions while skiing or hiking throughout Grand Teton and the Rockefeller Parkway:

  • Make noise
  • Travel in a group of three or more
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it
  • Maintain a 100-yard distance from bears at all times
  • Never approach or feed a bear under any circumstance

Long-term data indicates that 50% of adult male bears are out of their winter dens by mid-March each year, and females with yearlings emerge shortly after. When bears leave their winter dens, they search for any food source that will help restore fat reserves lost during hibernation. Winter-killed animals provide immediate sources of protein, and hungry bears may strongly defend carcasses and other food sources against perceived threats. Carcasses should serve as a point of caution—a red flag to detour away from the area. As snow banks recede, bears also dig up wildflower bulbs and burrowing rodents.

Access to human food and garbage is a death sentence to a bear. Black and grizzly bears that learn humans are an easy source for food items can become a nuisance, as well as a safety concern. Food-conditioned bears are often removed from the population via management actions such as relocation or euthanization.

Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage and other odorous items unavailable to bears at all times by storing these attractants inside hard-sided vehicles, by disposing of garbage in bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters, and by keeping personal items—such as backpacks—within arms' reach at all times. It may be a cliché; however more often than not, "a fed bear is a dead bear."

Please report bear sightings or sign to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible. Timely reporting will help park staff provide important safety messages about bear activity to other visitors.

For further information on bear safety behaviors when hiking, camping or picnicking in bear country, read the park's newspaper, Grand Teton Guide, online at www.nps.gov/grte , or go directly to the park's safety tips webpage at https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/safety.htm

Last updated: March 25, 2015

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P.O. Drawer 170
Moose, WY 83012

Phone:

(307) 739-3300

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