According to Yellowstone National Park officials, grizzly bear tracks were spotted in the Blacktail Deer Plateau area east of Mammoth Hot Springs on Friday, February 19, though there were no reports of live sightings, at least through last weekend.
Park regulations require you to stay 100 yards 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. While firearms are allowed in the park, discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations. Even the park’s law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on pepper spray, and not their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.
Seasonal Bear Management Area closures are designed to reduce encounters with bears in areas that have a high density of elk and bison carcasses and provide areas where bears can roam free from human disturbance. They include Firehole Lake Drive, which will be closed from Wednesday, March 10 through June 15; and the Blacktail area south of the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction, which will be closed from March 10 through June 30.