Posted: Mar 14, 2013 10:49 AM
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - Grizzly bears are starting to emerge from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
In a press release issued Thursday, Yellowstone National Park advises hikers, skiers and other outdoor recreationists that it is that time of year to start carrying bear spray, traveling in groups of three or more and making noise along trails.
Bears will be looking for food, including elk and bison carcasses from animals that have died over the winter.
Updated bear safety information is available on the Yellowstone bear safety Web page at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/bearenc.htm and in the park newspaper, which is distributed at all park entrances. The park also implements seasonal bear management areas closures to reduce encounters between bears and humans in areas where elk and bison carcasses are in high density. A listing of these closures can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/bearclosures.htm.
Yellowstone reminds visitors that regulations require them to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look. All visitors traveling in the park away from developed areas should stay in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, keep an eye out for bears and carry bear spray. Bear spray has proven to be a good last line of defense, if kept handy and used according to directions when a bear is approaching within 30 to 60 feet.
While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations. Even the park's law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on bear spray, rather than their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.
Visitors are also 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.