Officials Encourage Bear Safety

Release Date: Jun 28, 2011

JACKSON, WY – The Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are urging visitors and residents to always maintain a safe distance from bears, especially female bears with cubs, for the well-being of the animals and people.

There have been many opportunities this season for visitors to the National Forest to see bears, including female bears with their cubs. While wildlife viewing is an appropriate and encouraged form of recreation on the Bridger-Teton, some basic guidelines must be observed for the safety of people and bears alike.

“Female grizzlies with cubs are particularly dangerous and we can’t stress enough the importance of respecting the bear and her need for space,” said Forest Supervisor Jacque Buchanan. “Even those of us that are trying to photograph bears need to be mindful that we can’t disrupt a bear without possibly harming her, or people,” she said. A bear with cubs is particularly dangerous because she is naturally defensive and will instinctively protect her offspring.

Feeding a bear or harassing them to have them turn or move a particular way is not only dangerous for people, but can end badly for the bear as well. A bear that becomes conditioned to human food will often become increasingly bold and cause property damage while seeking out such food sources in the future. Human-habituated bears may appear docile at a distance, but may become aggressive when approached too closely.

“Bears will often appear to ignore people and consequently may seem quite docile,” says Wyoming Game and Fish Department Bear Management Specialist, Mike Boyce. “But they are still wild animals and can quickly become defensive. Preventing a bad encounter is of utmost importance because such incidents typically end badly for both the bear and people involved.”

Protecting wildlife and visitors to the Bridger-Teton is of extreme importance to both agencies. “Steps will be taken if necessary to ensure that visitors do not disturb, harass, or in any way endanger bears or other people with their behaviors while observing these animals in their natural habitat,” said Buchanan.

On the Bridger-Teton, a food storage order is in place for the area north of the Snake River and for the northern half of the Pinedale Ranger District. Food storage is recommended for the rest of the Bridger-Teton. For more information or to report a bear incident, please contact your local office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department or Bridger Teton National Forest.