Keep Yourself Safe and Avoid Bear Encounters
KALISPELL, MT – October 20, 2015--With the general deer and elk rifle season opening on October 24, hunters and other recreationists are reminded to properly store game meat, food, livestock feed, garbage, and all other attractants in a bear-resistant manner. Following game meat and food storage requirements will protect you and bears especially in light of the considerable increase of bear activity and bear-human encounters.
Storage of food, garbage, and other attractants is restricted during occupancy and use on all national forests within the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and all of the Flathead, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests. These requirements are intended to help you avoid attracting bears into your camp or near you while enjoying forest activities like hunting.
Here are the basics. When you are not present, all food and attractants, including game meat, must be stored in either a hard-sided camper, vehicle trunk or cab, enclosed horse trailer, approved bear resistant container, suspended at least ten feet above the ground and four feet from the vertical support or by using an approved electric fencing system. In addition, wildlife carcasses that are within one-half mile of a camp or sleeping area must be stored in a bear resistant manner during night-time hours.
Hunters are encouraged to carry and know how to use bear pepper spray and to have it in reach when dressing out your animal. Hunt with a partner and be alert for signs of bear activity. Field dress, butcher and pack out your meat as soon as possible. Separate the gut pile from the carcass and be mindful of keeping gut piles and cutting up the carcass away from trails and roads so not to attract bears and create a safety hazard for other hunters.
There are many resources available to hunters and other forest visitors to learn about food and game meat storage, and tips for hunting safely in bear country. For more information about food storage requirements, visit the Flathead National Forest web page, www.fs.usda.gov/flathead and click on the Bear Country Safety link. Visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website,http://www.igbconline.org/ for bear safety resource guides and information on using approved electric fencing. Download the “Hunting Safely in Grizzly Country” brochure from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website, www.fwp.mt.gov.
For more information, contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region One office, 406/752-5501 or any of the Flathead National Forest ranger district offices: Tally Lake Ranger District – 406/758-5204; Hungry Horse and Glacier View Ranger Districts – 406/387-3800; Swan Lake Ranger District – 406/837-7800; Spotted Bear Ranger District – 406/758-5376.