From Staff Reports
As warmer temperatures in the 50s and 60s arrive with the start of spring across the greater Yellowstone area, the National Park Service is reminding residents and visitors that grizzly bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation.
Anyone using the backcountry for recreation should be cautious about encountering bears searching for food, according to a statement released Thursday by the Yellowstone National Park public affairs office.
Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk, bison and other animals that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important food source for bears, and grizzlies will sometimes react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.
Encounters with grizzly bears that result in injury are relatively uncommon, and fatal encounters are even rarer, but as grizzly bears continue to recover and expand their density and range across the region, wildlife managers are working to minimize conflicts.
Traveling the backcountry with bear spray and in groups of three or more are among the best ways to stay safe in bear country.
Bear safety information is available on the Yellowstone Park website and in the park newspaper, which is distributed at all park entrances.
Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears.
Firearms are allowed in the park, but park officials caution that discharging a firearm is a violation of park regulations.
Visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.
Bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.