Learn to live in the wild: Wildlife active, on the move in fall

WYOMING – It is fall in Jackson Hole and that means wildlife is active and on the move.

Bears are in an eating frenzy, packing on weight for hibernation. Ungulates are in the rut, beginning migration to lower elevations and avoiding pressure from hunters. Any way you look at it, expect to see more wildlife in places you normally may not.

And Wyoming Game and Fish is up to their necks in wildlife calls. They’d received seven before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Personnel recently to a call about a bull moose that had become entangled in a hammock south of Wilson. A bear was spotted yesterday near Jackson school grounds, prompting a text to TCSD parents urging them to “use caution coming to/leaving schools in the area.”

Game and Fish officials are asking residents to do their part to avoid conflicts with wildlife in residential areas this fall, particularly moose and bears. The Jackson Game and Fish office commonly receives an increased number of calls this time of year regarding wildlife in residential areas, especially moose and bears. This has prompted wildlife officials to offer advice on how to avoid problems with these animals.

“We typically get a number of moose calls this time of year because it’s the breeding season, the bulls are starting to travel a lot in pursuit of cows and they tend to start rubbing their antlers on whatever they can find,” said Aly Courtemanch, Jackson Wildlife Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Consequently, we get reports of bull moose with a variety of things wrapped around their antlers, including fencing, hammocks, rope swings, wind chimes, Christmas lights, lawn furniture, and so on.”

Wildlife officials are asking residents to be aware of this possibility and remove anything on their property that these animals may become entangled in. Also, it is recommended that people check their speed and be watchful for moose while driving, especially at night. Officials report that there have already been several moose hit by vehicles on Wyoming highways 390 and 22, from Jackson over Teton Pass, this summer.

Similarly, Game and Fish officials are also asking residents to avoid potential conflicts with bears by keeping all bear attractants unavailable.

“It has already been a busy summer with regard to bear conflicts, but as is typical this time of year, we have been receiving an increasing number of reports of black bears being seen in developed areas around Jackson,” said Jackson Large Carnivore Biologist Mike Boyce. “As natural foods begin to dry up, bears commonly start showing up in developed areas this time of year. While bears may just be eating berries and passing through, it’s important they do not get any human food rewards, such as improperly stored garbage, that would encourage them to stay.”

Residents are reminded to not put their garbage out the night before pickup and to store garbage and bird feeders properly as per Teton County regulations. The Teton County Land Development Regulation, passed in 2009, applies specifically to the identified bear conflict priority areas within the county, but all residents are encouraged to follow the regulations. Garbage is required to be stored in certified bear-resistant containers or in a secure building or enclosure at all times. All bird feeders are to be hung with a catch pan at least 10 feet from the ground, deck railing or patio and four feet away from any tree, post or support structure.

Wyoming Game and Fish bear managers will follow-up on bear sightings and visit with property owners to ensure bear attractants are properly stored to prevent conflicts. Allowing bears to get a food reward conditions them to associate people with food, which may lead to dangerous or destructive behaviors.

“By immediately reporting incidents, we can address the cause of the conflict and hopefully prevent future problems,” Boyce said. “Public safety is always going to be our highest priority, and if informed right away, we have more options in dealing with a problem bear.”

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