Hunters: Be bear aware
Bears seek opportunities to feed during hunting season
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
September 30, 2011
Hunters on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are reminded to be particularly cautious when field-dressing their game in bear country.
Grizzly bears may respond to the sound of gunshots, and the smell of carcasses, in areas where hunters have harvested big game. Bears may approach such sites any time of day, and sometimes respond very quickly after hearing gunshots.
Grizzly bears converging on a site where hunters are field dressing their game is not a new phenomenon. In 2010, successful hunters were approached by grizzly bears on the Buffalo and Jackson Ranger Districts in Teton County on the Bridger-Teton numerous times, and this behavior is common in other parts of the ecosystem as well. Grizzly bears now occupy nearly all portions of the Buffalo and Jackson Ranger Districts.
Hunters should have a plan for getting their game meat out quickly, at least to camp or directly to the trailhead. It is also advised that hunters take extra precautions during field dressing by having their pepper spray un-holstered and readily accessible. To let bears know humans are in the area, hunters should make lots of noise when field-processing game. If successful hunters are approached by bears, they should withdraw from the site, leave the general area, and report the incident to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
If the carcass must be left, separate the meat from the gut-pile and hang it at least 10-feet off the ground and 4-feet from any vertical support. It is also recommended that parties leave an article of clothing, or bell in the tree, or something that leaves an unnatural feel and sound to the area. If hunters are unable to hang the game, the carcass should be positioned away from all trails and in such a way that it can be seen from a distance. If a carcass must be left overnight, hunters should be extremely cautious walking in on it. While approaching it, hunters should make lots of noise, and use binoculars to search the area and determine if the carcass has been disturbed by bears. Bears often bed down near food sources and extra precautions are necessary to potentially avoid injury.