The first grizzly bear sighting of 2019 has been reported in Yellowstone National Park.
On Friday, March 8, visitors saw a large grizzly bear between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge, according to a press release. Additionally, grizzly tracks were reported between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Junction Monday, March 11.
The first grizzly sighting in 2018 occurred on March 7.
Yellowstone officials said male grizzlies come out of hibernation in mid-to-late March while females with cubs emerge in April and early May.
When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. The press release states sometimes bears will react aggressively while feeding on carcasses.
Park officials offered advice to visitors as Yellowstone National Park is bear country:
- Prepare for a bear encounter.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
- Stay alert.
- Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.
- Do not run if you encounter a bear.
- Stay 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
- Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
- Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
- Learn more about bear safety.
While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations.
The park restricts certain visitor activities in locations where there is a high density of elk and bison carcasses and lots of bears, according to the press release. Restrictions began in some bear management areas on Sunday, March 10.