Reminder to be bear aware, Food Storage Order runs annually through Dec. 1
CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST
BOZEMAN – Food storage requirements across much of the Custer Gallatin National Forest go into effect March 1 for the 2022 season. The Bozeman, Hebgen Lake, Gardiner, Yellowstone and Beartooth districts are all in bear country and are included in this order, extending March 1 through Dec. 1, annually.
The Food Storage Order requires that all unattended food, garbage and attractants be stored in an approved manner, including:
- hard-sided vehicles or trailers that have no openings, hinges, lids or coverings that would allow a bear to gain entry;
- approved bear-resistant containers or other approved products as certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee; (Bear Resistant Products – Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee igbconline.org)
- hung at least 10 feet above the ground, and 4 feet away from tree/pole, out of the reach of wildlife;
- any harvested animal carcass must be acceptably stored, unless the carcass is being dressed, transported, being prepared for eating or being prepared for acceptable storage;
- dead livestock found in the forest must be reported within 24 hours of discovery;
The order does not apply when the food/attractant is being actively used or attended to by someone during daylight hours. Attractants can include items such as scented toiletries, pet food and certain horse pellets. All beverages except water are included under the food storage order, as are empty food and beverage containers. Violating the food storage order is a punishable offense and individuals may be held civilly liable for any damages that occur from non-compliance.
“As bears emerge from their dens, they can be hungry and more food aggressive,” said Josh Hemenway, Custer Gallatin Wildlife program manager. “Eliminating the potential for food rewards is important to keep both people and bears safe this time of year.”
If a bear encounter occurs, know how to be bear aware. Bears are native wildlife that do not want to be approached and desire protection of their space, food and young. Being bear aware includes keeping your pet on a leash or under close controllable voice command, traveling in large groups, making noise, looking and listening for bear signs, carrying bear spray and practicing safe food storage, including a clean camp.
When encountering a bear, remain calm and do not run. Continue to face the bear and back away slowly, while speaking calmly to identify yourself as a human. Always carry bear spray readily available on your person and be prepared to discharge. If a bear continues to approach, remove spray from holster, remove safety clip and hold the can firmly. Pull the trigger and continue spraying until the bear diverts its charge. Discharge the bear spray in a slight downward angle and speak firmly.
Visit Food Storage Order for more information on bear safety and details regarding the food storage order.