Grizzly and black bears are emerging from their winter dens and becoming active. Expect all bears to be active and moving by the end of April. Female bears are extremely protective of new cubs. New green plant growth and production are important sought-out forage for bears.
Now is the time to take the following necessary precautions to avoid conflicts with bears:
Hikers and especially antler hunters should be cautious in their travels. Bear encounters often occur when bears are surprised. When hiking, make noise as you travel so bears are alerted to your presence. Avoid animal carcasses and scavenging bird concentrations. Be aware of bear sign: digging, rolled rocks, tracks, and scats. During the spring season, bears move to open areas, creek bottoms, and forest edges at low- and mid-elevations. Carry bear pepper spray and know how to use it before you go to the backcountry.
Secure food attractants at residences and businesses. Due to the bear’s natural movement to lower elevations, garbage, birdseed, pet and livestock feed, barbeque grills, and compost can all attract bears close to developed areas. This can create situations leading to property damage, human safety concerns, and the relocation or death of a bear.
“Recent consecutive years of drought conditions have caused a decline in the quality and quantity of natural bear foods, such as berries, pine nuts, and winter-killed game. This spring will not be different,” said Kevin Frey, FWP Bear Management Specialist. “With limited residual food sources from last year available and the only new sources of food being spring plant production and roots, it’s important to keep food attractants secured away from bears to minimize potential human/bear conflicts.”
Each year numerous human-grizzly conflicts are reported and investigated, resulting in bear relocations and bear mortalities.
Bear pepper spray is available at many hunting and outdoor gear stores. It has been effective in stopping aggressive bears. It should not be used for spraying an area or personal property to repel bears. There are numerous pepper sprays on the market, but users should only purchase those that are Environmental Protection Agency-registered.