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LibbyMt.com > News > September 2007 > Bear Pepper Spray is for all Seasons

Bear Pepper Spray is for all Seasons
Be Bear Aware
September 9, 2007

With fewer natural food choices available for bears this fall due to the summer's drought and fire, people in the outdoors need to be alert for bear activity and equipped with bear pepper spray into early winter when Montana's black and grizzly bears hibernate.

Likely locations to encounter a black bear this time of year are bottomlands near streams and rivers where late chokecherries and other berries may be found, areas with larger rocks and stumps that may harbor ant or bee colonies, apple and plum orchards, and locations with good root crops.

Bear experts say grizzly bears are concentrating at higher elevations in locations where whitebark pine seed cones are available, and in lower elevations if there are chokecherries, hawberries and apples available. Bears search for the best quality foods available and may have come to associate humans with potentially high-quality food sources. Here are some steps to take when you venture into bear country this season.

* Always carry bear pepper spray and know how to use it. In sudden grizzly encounters, bear pepper spray has proven to be highly effective.

* Watch for fresh bear sign, including bear scat, overturned rocks and rotted stumps, and claw marks and hair on trees that tell you a bear is or has been in the area.

* Be certain to use safe camping practices by storing food in containers tested and known to be bear proof, plan ahead to minimize leftovers and eliminate food smells.

* If you plan to hike, camp or hunt alone, be sure to let someone know about your plans, or better yet, invite a friend.

* Hunters should check the Montana big game regulations for details on how to handle big game in the field to reduce the chances of attracting bears.

It is best to assume every bear is a grizzly bear and to bear proof back packs, camps, and cabins accordingly so that all potential bear attractants are safely contained.

Encounters with grizzly or black bears that display aggressive or defensive behaviors toward people, livestock or pets should be reported to FWP at 1-800-TIP-MONT, or the nearest FWP office.

For more on living with bears, look on the FWP webpage at fwp.mt.gov under Conservation for the Be Bear Aware page.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

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