Tag Archives: bear safety

Be ‘bear aware’ as bears emerge from dens

Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs - NPS photo, Tim Rains
Grizzly Bear Sow and cubs – NPS photo, Tim Rains

A timely reminder from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks . . .

Grizzly and black bears are emerging from dens, based on radio collar locations, track reports, and observations.

Males tend to emerge earlier than females; with the warming weather and increasing day length, more bears will be emerging in the coming weeks. As grizzly and black bears emerge, they will be moving to lower elevations to take advantage of the green-up of vegetation.

After a bear emerges, it takes a few weeks for its digestive system to get back to normal; the bear has been in the den for four to five months. The stomach and digestive system is empty so the bear starts out eating dry grass or roughage to activate the digestive system. Bears will be attracted to anything that smells like food.

By April 1, residents in bear country should take down bird feeders, secure garbage inside a closed garage or secure shed, feed pets inside, clean up chicken and livestock feed, and in general remove all odorous substances that can draw bears. Instead of putting out hummingbird feeders we recommend putting up hanging baskets of flowers instead.

A properly installed and maintained electric fence is an excellent way to protect livestock, poultry, beehives, rabbits, fruit trees, and gardens from bears. FWP has brochures and a webpage where you can get additional information on electric fencing at: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/bearAwareTools.html.

Hikers, mountain bikers, hunters, and other recreationalists should carry bear spray, keep it readily available for use, and know how to use it.

Can you be friends with a bear?

Grizzly Bear - Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash
Grizzly Bear – Thomas Lefebvre, via Unsplash

Can you be friends with a bear? This brings to mind a famous line from the original “Indiana Jones” movie: “You go first.”

Still, someone asked the geeks at Gizmodo (of all places!) this question. They, in turn, asked a number of experts for comments and put together a surprisingly interesting article.

Mild spoiler: Shannon Donahue, Executive Director of the Great Bear Foundation, wrote the best, most elegant answer . . .

Late last year, a photo of a bear officiating a wedding in Russia went viral. The picture turned out to be fake, but its popularity says something significant about our conception of the species: Despite thousands of years of contrary evidence, and at least one harrowing documentary, human beings still on some level want to view bears as big, cuddly, forest-dwelling dogs.

Are we wrong to feel this way? Can a human and a wild bear have anything approaching a pet-like, or at least, non-lethal relationship? The example of Grizzly Man’s Timothy Treadwell, of course, haunts this line of questioning. But the experts we spoke with—people who have studied bears, lived among them, and worked to conserve their natural habitats—would reject the idea that any kind of bear-human bond will inevitably end in bloodshed. More or less all agree that every bear is a wild bear—that even if it playfully nuzzles you, or spends twenty years riding a tiny bicycle in your traveling circus, the odds of it suddenly mauling and/or eating you alive remain high. But opinions differ on just how close our two species can get, and what “closeness” can really mean, when you’re dealing with a thousand-plus-pound forest creature.

Read more . . .

Spring safety reminders for Glacier Park visitors — and national forest lands, too

Glacier Park has a lengthy press release about visitor safety during the spring. Much of it is good advice for people visiting national forest lands, too, especially backcountry areas . . .

The transition from winter to spring at Glacier National Park is happening, offering some popular recreational opportunities, as well as some challenges and hazards.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and prepare for a visit to the park this spring. Visitors may encounter snow, cold and swift-running waters and changing weather conditions, as well as spectacular vistas and wildlife viewing opportunities.”

Snow accumulations across the park are above average and there is still much snow at the higher elevations and locations on the east side of the park. Many areas in the park are prone to avalanches and snow slides, so caution should be used in these areas, including along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As the snow begins to melt, the rivers and streams begin to fill. The water is extremely cold and fast moving. Use caution when crossing or stepping near bodies of water, and be alert to areas with snow as thin snow bridges can be hazardous. Listen for muffled sound of running water under snow, moats, and avoid stepping onto snow cornices. River users should be cautious of avalanche debris along and in the rivers, and always wear a life jacket when boating.

Hikers and climbers visiting some of the higher elevations in the park should expect snow and ice, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. It is important to know the terrain you are about to hike or climb, and carry the appropriate equipment. When hiking may include snowfield travel, visitors should know how to travel in such challenging conditions, including knowing how to use crampons, ice axe and appropriate avalanche gear.

Layers of clothing, extra clothing and appropriate footwear are encouraged, as well as water, snacks and a map. It is a good idea to have a first-aid kit available, and always communicate to someone your planned route of travel and your expected time of return.

Since the park is home to black and grizzly bears, park visitors should be alert for spring bear activity and be familiar with responsible actions to maintain human and bear safety…

Read more . . .