Posted: Oct 22, 2013 4:45 PM by MTN News
MISSOULA - Big game rifle season opens up Saturday, and state wildlife officials want to remind hunters that bears are still out and active,.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bear Management Specialist Jamie Jonkel says that being bear aware is particularly important for hunters because stalking and harvesting game increases a person's chance of bumping into bears.
"When travelling through dense brush or field dressing an animal, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence," Jonkel said. "Always have bear spray close at hand."
He added this has been an especially busy fall for grizzly bear activity in Region 2, measured in reports he has received from archery and bird hunters.
Jonkel noted that he continues to get a number of reports of grizzlies in the Blackfoot and Clearwater drainages - as well as a few from the Rattlesnake Wilderness, the Ninemile area northwest of Missoula and Garnet and Sapphire Mountain Ranges.
Grizzlies can be found throughout Western Montana, but bear distribution can vary from year to year, depending on the location of berry crops and other food sources.
Jonkel says that this year's weather conditions and natural foods have drawn bears close to trails and trailheads that hunters use.
FWP offers a few important safety tips for hunting in bear country:
Always carry bear spray, have it within easy reach and know how to use it.
If you are going to be alone in bear country, let someone know your plans.
Watch for fresh bear sign.
After making a kill, get the carcass out of the area as quickly as possible.
When field dressing the carcass, keep your can of bear spray within easy reach.
Use special precautions if you must leave and return to a carcass, including placing the carcass where you can observe it from a distance when you return.
Do not attempt to frighten away or haze a bear that is near or feeding on a carcass.