“Bears begin looking for food sources soon after they emerge from their dens. During this time of year they are attracted to elk, bison or other wildlife that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important food source in the spring” said Jodie Canfield, Wildlife Biologist, Custer and Gallatin National Forests. “Bear spray that is readily accessible is the most effective method in the event of a negative bear encounter.”
Bear spray is effective at a range of 25 feet or less. With a charging bear you should give it a 2 second burst when it is 40 feet away, to create a cloud of spray between you and the bear. To lessen the chances of a negative bear encounter follow these “Be Bear Aware” tips.
· Always carry bear pepper spray, have it close at hand, and know how to use it.
· Practice proper food and attractant storage techniques
· Travel in numbers and make noise; keep children and pets close.
· Be alert to signs of bear activity and your surroundings —fresh scat, tracks, digging, turned over rocks, tree scratching, and concentrations of natural food including whitebark pine cones and animal carcasses. Avoid recreating in areas with fresh bear sign.
· Do not attempt to frighten away or haze a bear that is near or feeding on a carcass.
· Cook any meals and store attractants at least 100 yards from any backcountry campsites.
For further information about “Be Bear Aware” visitwww.BeBearAware.org. For additional information on local conditions please contact your local ranger district office on the Custer or Gallatin National Forests. To find general information or review food storage specific requirements, visit the Custer or Gallatin National Forests website at www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin or atwww.fs.usda.gov/custer.