Bear Activity Increasing In Eastern Idaho

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Forest and wildlife officials are seeing bear tracks in the snow in the Island Park area.

Bears are emerging from their winter dens; consequently, local residents and visitors need to be alert for the presence of both black and grizzly bears within Caribou-Targhee National Forest, particularly in the northern portion of the forest.

As bears once again become active, appropriate precautions for traveling in bear country must be taken. When bears leave their winter dens, they search for any food source that will help restore fat reserves lost during hibernation.

“This could be a challenge with the significant snow levels in the national forest and communities adjacent to the national forest,” said Mark Orme, biologist for the Caribou-Targhee.

Winter-weakened animals and winter-killed wildlife carcasses provide immediate sources of protein and are vigorously defended by hungry bears. As snow banks recede, bears also dig up and eat burrowing rodents and spring wildflowers.
Historically, adult male bears emerge from hibernation by mid-to-late March.

Female bears, accompanied by their cubs, emerge later in the spring and are especially protective of their young. Any bear will defend a food source against perceived threats.

Do not approach a bear under any circumstances.

This is particularly important for situations involving bears with cubs, or bears near a carcass or other food source.

When traveling in bear country, precautionary measures include carrying bear pepper spray and keeping it easily accessible for ready use. Please take the time to learn how to properly handle bear pepper spray and remember that having it with you is not a substitute for being alert. While enjoying public lands, visitors and residents should exercise good judgment and follow recommended safety precautions, such as making noise and traveling in groups.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of their activity to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible. This timely information will assist Idaho Department of Fish and Game and forest officials in keeping visitors informed about recent bear activity and in keeping bears away from unnatural food sources.

Access to human food habituates bears. Habituated animals can lose their fear of humans, which threatens the safety of visitors and the bears themselves.

Local residents and forest visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage and other odorous items unavailable to bears by either storing attractants inside vehicles or disposing of garbage in a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster.

For information on how to behave in bear country go to www.IGBConline.org, or
contact Gregg Losinski at 208-525-7290 or Lynn Ballard at 208-524-7500.