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First Yellowstone bear sighting of 2019

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Grizzly bear tracks in Yellowstone National Park. NPS PHOTO

Protect yourself and protect bears

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

The first grizzly bear sighting of 2019 occurred in Yellowstone National Park during the beginning of March. On March 8, visitors observed a large grizzly bear between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge. Additionally, grizzly tracks were reported between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction on March 11. The first grizzly bear sighting in 2018 occurred on March 7.   
 
Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in mid-to-late March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May. When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively while feeding on carcasses. 

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country, from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. Protect yourself and the bears people come here to enjoy by following these guidelines:

– Prepare for a bear encounter.

– Carry bear spray, know how to use it and make sure it’s accessible. 

– Stay alert. 

– Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn or at night.

– Don’t run if you encounter a bear. 

– Stay 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look.  

– Store food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.

– Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.

– Learn more about bear safety by visiting nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/bearsafety.htm.

“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about the conservation of bears and observing them in the wild,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management specialist. “Reduce human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from getting food and garbage, hiking in groups of three or more people, carrying bear spray and making noise in blind spots on the trail.”

While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations. Bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources. It can also reduce the number of bears killed by people in self-defense. 

The park restricts certain visitor activities in locations where there is a high density of elk and bison carcasses and lots of bears. Restrictions began in some bear management areas on March 10.  Visit nps.gov/yell/learn/management/bearclosures.htm to learn more about these closures.

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