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Safety Tips Offered for Pre-Hibernation Bear Sightings


Tuesday, September 7, 2021   

JACKSON, Wyo. - Bears throughout Wyoming, including celebrated Grizzly 399 and her four adolescent cubs, are becoming increasingly active in search of food before winter hibernation.

Wyoming's wildlife managers are encouraging all residents and visitors to do their part to keep bears - and themselves - safe.

Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, said 399 is widely viewed as a national treasure, and she encouraged fans to give the bear and her family plenty of space.

"We live in a unique environment up here, where we have her and her cubs wandering around," said Combs. "And we should be able to appreciate them and enjoy them, and also give them the room to move around and find food, hopefully before they turn in for the winter."

Combs said bears and people can co-exist; it just takes a small shift in your mindset and taking a few extra precautions, especially during the late summer/early autumn feeding period known as hyperphagia.

For a comprehensive list of tips for how to make your home bear safe, and how to manage encounters outdoors, visit ''

To avoid the mistake of inviting bears into your home, Combs said keep doors and windows closed and locked.

Make sure pet and livestock feed and trash is kept indoors or in bear-proof cans. And wait to put trash out until the morning before pickup.

It's also a good idea to remove bird feeders until mid-December.

Combs added that installing simple, solar-powered electric fencing around beehives, gardens and compost can make a big difference.

"If you have a chicken coop, secure that with some electric fencing," said Combs. "Electric fencing is highly successful with bears. They get zapped once and they will never come back to that source again. And that will keep other animals out as well."

Encounters with bears while hunting or hiking are rare, but Combs said bear spray is the most effective way to protect yourself as well as bears.

Make sure you know how it works, and that it's accessible, because encounters can happen pretty quickly. She recommended using a chest holster, or attaching it to your belt, within easy reach.

"In incidences where there are bears, and people are surprising them, bear spray usually ends up in either less injuries or no injuries to the people," said Combs. "And obviously the bear still lives to see another day too."

Disclosure: Wyoming Wildlife Advocates contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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