Grizzly bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation and early risers are being spotted in the region.
“We beat Yellowstone Park out this year,” says Jamie Jonkel, is a bear biologist with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks.
Jonkel said he spoke with a bear manager in the Flathead recently.
“About a week and a half ago he had a report and a picture of a good grizzly track somewhere in the Mission Mountains, still up pretty high, just a nice set of tracks in deep snow,” he said.
Yellowstone Park said today that staff spotted grizzlies last week in the east-and- west-central areas of the park.
Male grizzlies typically emerge from hibernation in mid-to-late March. Females with cubs come out from April to early May.
When they emerge, bears are hungry and often feed on carcasses left from the winter. They may react aggressively while feeding.
FWP’s Jonkel said people don’t need to be too concerned until mid-April.
Yellowstone officials suggest visitors prepare for a bear encounter and follow good hiking and food storage practices. They recommend visitors use bear spray to deter bears defending cubs and food sources.