Wyoming bears are starting to wake up and become active

Stay safe and bear aware

4/3/2023 8:41:44 PM

Cheyenne - Wyoming’s bears are waking from hibernation throughout the state. The bears’ spring emergence serves as a reminder for outdoor recreationalists and homeowners in bear-inhabited areas of Wyoming to brush up on bear safety.

“Even the most experienced recreationalist or rural homeowner who has lived in bear country for years can wind up in a close encounter or conflict situation with a bear,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt said. “We want people to stay diligent to avoid any potential bear conflicts.”

Bear Wise Wyoming is a resource for recreationalists, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who lives in bear country. DeBolt said everyone has a role in putting bear-safety practices in place this spring.

For people who live in bear country — black or grizzly — keep garbage, livestock or pet feed and birdseed properly stored and unavailable to bears. Barbeque grills should be kept clean and stored in a garage or shed when possible. This limits attractants that can draw them to areas where people live or camp. 

“The majority of the people in rural areas of Wyoming do an excellent job of securing attractants away from bears, this time of year is always a good reminder to remain vigilant and remember to secure attractants to minimize the potential for conflict,” DeBolt said.

Those who recreate in bear country also need to be aware of the potential for encounters with bears. When recreating in bear habitat, be prepared and alert, your main goal is to not have a surprise encounter with a bear. Hike in a group and make noise as you travel so bears can hear you. Learn to recognize areas of heavy bear use by knowing how to identify tracks, scats and diggings, and if you smell a carcass, avoid it. Congregating magpies or ravens often indicate a nearby potential food source for bears. Remember, when bears prey on or scavenge large animals they often cover what they can’t eat with brush or dirt and may stay nearby for several days to defend it from other large carnivores.

Commercially-available bear spray is an effective deterrent if confronted by a bear. Carry bear spray in a readily accessible manner, make sure you know how to use it and that the spray is EPA approved. Use bear spray only as a deterrent. 

Game and Fish strives to minimize conflicts between people and large carnivores, as well as quantifying and evaluating how situations occur. It is critical the public notifies Game and Fish if a conflict arises as soon as possible.  

“In most conflict situations, bears do not interact with people, rather they obtain unsecured human foods, livestock or pet foods, garbage or birdseed,” DeBolt said. “We greatly appreciate the public's communication with Game and Fish to swiftly work to resolve conflict potential.” 

Many times Game and Fish can take action to effectively deter ongoing conflicts, which is good for people and bears.  

To learn more visit the Bear Wise Wyoming website.

(Breanna Ball, Public Information Officer - (

- WGFD -

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