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This Week in Fish and Wildlife: Learn how to use bear spray

Posted at 8:42 AM, Jun 09, 2022

BOZEMAN - A rare opportunity to practice using bear spray on a charging bear coming up next week here in southwest Montana. Morgan Jacobsen from the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks tells MTN’s Chet Layman there will be two opportunities to practice this life-saving procedure…without the risk of being mauled.

Jacobsen says FWP has a simulated bear that you can practice spraying with inert bear spray while it charges you. He notes that carrying bear spray is vital, but being able to use it properly is even more important, and that’s why FWP is holding these events. Jacobsen says the first will be next Thursday, June 16h from 10-3 at the basketball court in the Big Sky Community Park. On Friday (6/17) from 11:30-4 pm, you can head over to FWP Region-3 headquarters at 1400 South 19th in Bozeman for the event.

Jacobsen says along with the charging bear simulator and inert bear spray, you can try out different spray holsters, and find answers to any questions you might have about bears. He says there will also be information about proper food storage in bear country. He says if you’d like more information about these events, go to the FWP website or its Facebook page. Fwp.mt.gov or Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 for the Facebook address.

Bear safety training events in Big Sky, Bozeman 

FWP to host bear awareness events to teach safety skills 

BOZEMAN – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff will host two bear safety events next week to offer training and hands-on practice with bear spray and other safety resources.

The first event will be Thursday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the basketball court at Big Sky Community Park in Big Sky.

The second event will be Friday, June 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the south parking lot of FWP’s Bozeman office, 1400 S. 19th Ave.

Both events will include bear displays and safety talks on the hour. The displays include grizzly bear and black bear full-body mounts, skulls, tracks, food storage options, bear spray holsters and more. Participants will have the chance to practice using inert bear spray in a remote-controlled charging bear demonstration.

FWP staff will be available to discuss bear safety practices, bear biology and how to handle bear encounters. They will provide in-depth training on how to carry and use bear spray. This event is family friendly, and everyone is welcome.

Bears can be found throughout Montana. In recent years, grizzly bear populations have expanded. People venturing into the outdoors should be “bear aware” by following these precautionary steps:

  • Carry and know how to use bear spray. 
  • Travel in groups whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours. 
  • Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers. 
  • Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses. 
  • Make noise, especially near streams or in thick forest where hearing and visibility is impaired. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present. 
  • Don't approach a bear.