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Stay Safe and Bear Aware

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Bears are emerging from their winter dens in Wyoming and their spring emergence serves as a reminder for outdoor recreationists and homeowners to take the initiative to avoid conflicts. Sheridan Medias’ Ron Richter has the details.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt says that taking a few simple precautions can help anyone avoid a potentially dangerous encounter with a black or grizzly bear and that everyone has a role in putting bear-safety practices in place this spring.

Bear Wise Wyoming is an online resource provided by the G&F for recreationists, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who lives in bear country. The G&F encourages those that live in bear country, be it grizzly or black, to keep their garbage, livestock or pet feed and birdseed properly stored and unavailable to bears. Barbeque grills should be kept clean and stored in a garage or shed when possible, as this limits attractants that can draw them to areas where people live or camp.

Those who recreate in bear country also need to be aware of the potential for encounters. When recreating in bear habitat carry a defense and be alert. The main goal is to not have a surprise encounter with a bear. Hike in a group and make noise as you travel so bears can hear you. 

Learn to recognize areas of heavy bear use by knowing how to identify tracks, scat and diggings, and if you smell a carcass or see scavenging birds, avoid the area. Remember, bears may stay near a carcass to defend it. Commercially-available bear spray is an effective deterrent if confronted by a bear. Carry bear spray in a readily accessible manner, make sure you know how to use it and that the spray is EPA-approved. Use bear spray only as a deterrent.

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