Grizzlies Emerge from Hibernation
The first grizzly bear sighting of 2019 in Yellowstone National Park occurred on Friday, March 8, between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge. Additionally, grizzly tracks were reported between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction on Monday, March 11.
Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in mid-to-late March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May. When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on the carcasses of elk and bison that died over the winter. Bears have been known to react aggressively while feeding.
All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country, from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. The park offers these guidelines for safety in bear country:
- Prepare for a bear encounter.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
- Stay alert.
- 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 away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
- 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.
- Learn more about bear safety.
“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about the conservation of bears and observing them in the wild,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management specialist, in a press release. “Reduce human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from getting food and garbage, hiking in groups of three or more people, carrying bear spray, and making noise in blind spots on the trail.”
Firearms are allowed in the park, but 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.