Grizzly bears with cubs have begun emerging from their dens in Teton County. As bears become active this spring, BearWise Jackson Hole reminds residents and visitors to secure attractants of any kind and be bear aware.
Seeing a bear in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience. However, living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part to keep both bears and humans safe. As the grizzly bear population expands within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse across their historical range but also into more populated areas. All of Teton County is now in occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Properly storing all attractants to ensure a bear does not obtain a food reward is crucial to keeping bears wild. Once a bear becomes conditioned to human foods, risks to the bear and humans increase and management options become limited. Whether you have lived in Teton County for decades or are visiting the area for a day, please do your part to help protect bears.
If you are a resident:
- Store all garbage within bear-resistant containers.
- Secure livestock feed, pet food, compost, and beehives.
- Hang birdfeeders in a way that makes them inaccessible to bears.
- Help your neighbors create a bear-wise community to protect wildlife.
If you are visiting the national park or national forest:
- Keep a clean camp. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, and pet food, inside a bear box or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up. Properly store garbage until you can deposit into a bear-resistant dumpster.
- Never abandon your picnic table or backpack. Make sure someone stays with your food at all times.
- If you see a bear, always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear, use a spotting scope or telephoto lens. Park in designated areas and never block travel lanes. Follow the directions of staff managing bear jams.
- Please respect all wildlife closure areas.
If you are exploring the backcountry:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Make noise, especially in areas with limited visibility or when sound is muffled.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
- Hike in groups of three or more people.
- Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.
As interagency partners, BearWise Jackson Hole will continue our collective efforts to proactively prevent conflicts between bears and people in Teton County. However, we cannot do this alone. We need your help. By securing attractants and taking appropriate precautions while recreating in bear country, we can keep both bears and humans safe.
Please immediately report any conflict activities in your local community to the bear management professionals with the Wyoming Game and Fish so we can respond swiftly and properly to reduce conflict potential between bears and people.
BearWise Jackson Hole was established in 2006 as a local chapter of the Wyoming Bear Wise Community Program and is a partnership between Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, and Teton County. Our objective is to minimize the accessibility of unnatural attractants to bears and educate residents and visitors about bears and conflict prevention.
Visit the following links to learn more:
NPS Photo/C. Adams