MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — On Monday, March 7, a pilot supporting Yellowstone National Park wildlife research observed the first grizzly bear awake from hibernation, announced the park in a press release.
The adult bear was seen walking in a meadow in the west-central part of the park.
Last year, the first bear was spotted in Yellowstone on March 13.
According to the park, male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May. When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses.
Yellowstone National Park released these guidelines for recreating in bear country:
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
- 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 (91 m) away from black and grizzly bears. Approaching bears within 100 yards is prohibited.
- 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.
“Spring visitors hiking, skiing or snowshoeing in the park can reduce the chances of encountering bears by avoiding low elevation winter ranges, thermal areas, and south-facing slopes where bears seek out ungulate carcasses and spring vegetation shortly after emerging from winter dens,” Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist said.
While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations. Bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources. It can also reduce the number of bears killed by people in self-defense.
The park restricts certain visitor activities in locations where there is a high density of elk and bison carcasses and lots of bears. Restrictions will begin in some bear management areas on March 10.