(Daily Montanan) On Tuesday, a Yellowstone National Park wildlife biologist on a radio telemetry flight observed the first grizzly bear of 2023 to emerge from hibernation.
The adult bear, estimated at 300-350 pounds, was seen near the remains of a bison carcass in Pelican Valley, in the central-eastern part of the park.
The first bear sighting of 2022
also occurred on March 7.
Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. 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.
Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses.
“Spring visitors skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in Yellowstone National Park are reminded to carry bear spray and be especially alert for bears near carcasses and areas with early spring green-up. These are the first foods sought out by grizzlies after emerging from hibernations,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.
Bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources. It can also reduce the number of bears killed by people in self-defense. While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations.