First grizzly bear sightings of 2018 at Yellowstone; hikers cautioned

First grizzly bear sightings of 2018 at Yellowstone; hikers cautioned

Outdoors

First grizzly bear sightings of 2018 at Yellowstone; hikers cautioned

In a sure sign of an impending spring, grizzly bears are starting to emerge from hibernation at Yellowstone National Park.

The park on Tuesday issued a news release stating that the first known sightings within park boundaries occurred last week, on March 6 and 7.

Grizzly bear photo is courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

The first sighting involved an 11-year-old male grizzly bear in the west-central portion of the park. The bear is wearing a radio collar that allows scientists to monitor its whereabouts.

The second bear was sighted in the east-central portion of the vast wilderness park, which encompasses parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

(The park did not have photos of the bears but allowed generic Yellowstone grizzly bear photos for use with this report.)

Grizzly bear photo is courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

Males are typically the first to emerge from hibernation, beginning in mid- to late-March. Females with cubs typically emerge beginning in late May.

The Yellowstone news release also cautioned visitors to be bear aware starting now, despite a wintry landscape in many areas of the park. This includes storing food and other attractants in bear-proof containers.

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Said bear management specialist Kerry Gunther: “Reducing human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from obtaining food and garbage, hiking in groups of three or more people, carrying bear spray, and making noise in blind spots on the trail are the best way for visitors to protect bears while recreating in the park.”

News of the sightings comes at a time when Wyoming is considering the first hunt of Yellowstone-area grizzly bears in more than 40 years.

The proposed hunt would occur in the fall in the northwest corner of the state and would allow the take of up to 24 grizzlies. The hunt, if approved, will occur outside Yellowstone and nearby Grand Teton National Park.

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