Game and Fish Reports Increased Black Bear Activity

Press Release – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has recently received numerous reports of black bear activity in several locations in Sheridan and Johnson Counties.

Dayton Game Warden Dustin Shorma said, “We have had issues all along the face of the Bighorns, from Buffalo to Dayton as well as on the Bighorn National Forest. This kind of activity is something we normally see after a prolonged dry summer; but this year it appears the bears are desperate for something to eat and are investigating developed sites looking for food items.” Shorma continued, “I am not sure what is causing all these bear conflicts, but people need to remember they live in bear country and need to take the proper steps to avoid bear/human conflicts.”

Sheridan Wildlife Biologist Tim Thomas warns, “Allowing bears to get a food reward conditions them to associate people with food, which may lead to dangerous or destructive behaviors. By immediately reporting incidents, Game and Fish can address the cause of the conflict and hopefully prevent it from happening again. Public safety is always going to be our highest priority, and if informed right away, we have more options in dealing with a conflict.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is recommending people take the following actions to avoid conflicts between bears and people:

  • Minimize odors and availability of food rewards throughout your yard.
  • Place garbage cans in a sturdy shed or in a bear resistant trash receptacle.
  • Take down or remove bird feeders if they are in reach of a bear.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and grease free.
  • Store pet and livestock feed inside a sturdy building.

Campers or people owning cabins in the Bighorn National Forest should follow these safety tips to help ensure a safer camping trip or cabin visit:

  • Keep a clean camp. Store food, garbage, toiletries, cooking utensils, dishes, and stoves in closed vehicles or approved bear resistant containers. Coolers are not bear resistant. Bear resistant containers are available at sporting goods stores and online retailers.
  • If bear resistant containers are not available, hang food at least 10 to 15 feet from the ground and four feet from top and side supports.
  • Back country campers should set up sleeping areas at least 100 yards from food storage and cooking and eating areas.
  • Never put food scraps or try to burn garbage in a campfire.
  • Do not keep food, or anything with an odor, in tents.
  • Any odor will attract a bear. Bears will target motor oil, insect repellent, liquor, livestock feed, and other items that smell like food to them.
  • When walking in the woods, make noise, be alert, and carry bear repellant pepper spray and keep it handy. Keep children close at hand.
  • Avoid taking pets when hiking; they may attract bears to you. If you do take your pet, keep it leashed.

Bears can be potentially dangerous, but many times they will leave the area if you make your presence known. If a bear is encountered here are a few recommendations:

  • If you see the bear but it is not close, move away from the area.
  • If the bear approaches DO NOT run. Try to remain calm and back away slowly. If the bear continues to approach you, shout to try to scare it away. If several people are present they should group together.
  • Have bear spray handy and know how to use it in case of a bear encounter.

For more information on how to avoid attracting bears to your house or cabin and what to do if you encounter a bear, go to the Be Bear Aware website at www.BeBearAware.org or stop by the Sheridan Region Game and Fish Department Office and pick up a bear aware brochure.

To report aggressive bears, conflicts or damage caused by the bears please call your local game warden or the Wyoming Game & Fish Department Sheridan Regional Office at 307-672-7418. After 5:00 p.m. or on weekends contact the local law enforcement agency.

~WGFD~

Post Author: broebling