JACKSON, Wyo. — With a number of recent bear sightings being reported in the Jackson area, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is reminding everyone to make sure all potential bear attractants are secure and unavailable to bears.
“The bear activity in developed areas has really picked up in recent weeks,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Biologist, Mike Boyce. “Bears are feeding around the clock this time of year in preparation for hibernation and we have responded to a number of reported bear conflicts. Both black and grizzly bears have acquired food rewards, primarily improperly stored garbage, throughout the valley.”
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 applies specifically to the identified Bear Conflict Priority Areas within the county, but all residents are encouraged to follow these 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 have been responding to bear sightings and visiting with property owners to ensure bear attractants are properly stored to prevent conflicts. “Unfortunately, we are still seeing places where known bear attractants, such as garbage, bird feeders, pet and livestock feed are available to bears,” said Boyce. “We know there are bears passing through developed areas in the valley. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure bears do not receive human food rewards that keep them in developed areas where they can become a threat to human safety.”
Allowing bears to get a food reward conditions them to associate food with people, which often leads to dangerous or destructive behaviors. “By immediately reporting incidents, we can address the cause of the conflict and hopefully prevent it from happening again,” says Boyce. “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.”
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance recently posted information about securing bear attractants. The post included a video of a bear in a local neighborhood going after an empty bird feeder. “The feeder was empty, so this bear was familiar with getting a reward from bird feeders before this event,” reads the video caption.