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Be Bear Aware when recreating in Montana's outdoors

Remove or secure food attractants at residences
Black Bear
Posted at 3:02 PM, Mar 24, 2023

HELENA – Bears are emerging from dens with the onset of spring, and people who are headed outdoors should “Be Bear Aware.”

Bears can be found throughout Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) notes grizzly bear populations have expanded and bears are sometimes found in historic ranges beyond Western Montana/

People can avoid conflict by removing or securing food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and pet food as bears begin foraging for food.
According to FWP, the most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured food attractants.

People venturing into the outdoors can “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.
  • Stay on trails or rural roads.
  • 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.
  • Keep children and pets close.
  • 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.

If you are camping in bear country, follow these guidelines:

  • Camp away from areas where you see grizzly bear sign.
  • Keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food.
  • Follow all food storage regulations. Contact the applicable land management agency to learn what food storage rules apply where you’re recreating. Hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, or store in a bear-proof container. Livestock feed should be treated the same as human food.

Anglers also need to practice safe behavior in bear country:

  • Don't leave fish entrails on shorelines of lakes and streams.
  • Sink entrails in deep water.
  • If you don't properly dispose of entrails you increase danger to yourself and to the next person to use the area.
  • Carry bear spray when fishing along rivers or streams with dense streamside cover.

FWP offers additional advice on how to "Be Bear Aware" here.