MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (KDVR) – The National Park Service says that grizzles are starting to wake up from hibernation. In fact, a Yellowstone National Park wildlife biologist on a radio telemetry flight saw the first grizzly bear of the year to emerge from hibernation on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, there were no photos released of the bear sighting.
The NPS said the bear was estimated to weigh 300-350 pounds. It was spotted near the remains of a bison carcass in Pelican Valley, which is in the central-eastern area of the park.
The first bear sighting last year was also on March 7, the NPS said.
Male grizzly bears are generally the first out of hibernation, followed by females with cubs in April and early May.
“When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses,” the NPS shared.
Bear guidelines at Yellowstone
Here are some guidelines from the NPS if you plan on going to Yellowstone:
- Read up on how to prepare for a bear encounter.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
- Stay alert.
- Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn or at night.
- Do not run if you encounter a bear.
- Stay 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears. Approaching bears within 100 yards is prohibited. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
- Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
- Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
- Read up on bear safety tips.
“Spring visitors skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in Yellowstone National Park are reminded to carry bear spray and be especially alert for bears near carcasses and areas with early spring green-up. These are the first foods sought out by grizzlies after emerging from hibernations,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.
The NPS said bear spray has worked in deterring bears that are defending cubs and food sources, and have reduced the number of bears killed by people in self-defense.
If you plan on visiting Yellowstone, the park will start enforcing bear management restrictions on March 10 for areas with high densities of bears.