The first Yellowstone bears of the season have emerged from hibernation in the park. Hooray!
According to a Yellowstone press release, park staff spotted an 11-year-old grizzly with a radio collar Tuesday, March 6, in west-central Yellowstone. Staff saw a second grizzly Wednesday, March 7 in east-central Yellowstone.
Male grizzlies typically start emerging from hibernation around mid- to late March, while females and cubs emerge in April and early May.
During this time, bears are especially hungry, seeking out easy pickings like winter kill carcasses. As such, these bears will be extra aggressive.
Park guidelines mandate that you stay at least 100 yards away from grizzlies and other Yellowstone bears.
It’s important to prepare for a potential bear encounter when hiking or camping in Yellowstone National Park. To avoid an unpleasant encounter for you and the bear, keep the following tips in mind:
- When hiking, travel in groups.
- Keep alert.
- Make noise to so you don’t accidentally startle bears.
- Carry bear spray.
- If you’re camping, store all food in bear-proof containers and keep your campsite clean.
- Report any bear sightings to park rangers.
Another thing to note: while it is legal to carry firearms in Yellowstone, it is illegal to fire them. And it’s especially illegal to shoot bears in the park.
“Many Yellowstone visitors are deeply passionate about the conservation of park bears,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management specialist, in the press release. “Reducing human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from obtaining food and garbage, hiking in groups of three or more people, carrying bear spray, and making noise in blind spots on the trail are the best way for visitors to protect bears while recreating in the park.”