Bear season arrives in the West
Forest Service issues food storage order for Custer Gallatin National Forest effective March 1
Explore Big Sky | By Julia Barton
As bears begin to emerge from their winter hibernation, the U.S. Forest Service today announced that food storage orders are in effect across the Custer Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge national forests and in much of the Greater Yellowstone Area.
The Bozeman, Hebgen Lake, Gardiner, Yellowstone and Beartooth ranger districts in the Custer Gallatin enforce an annual food storage order from March 1-Dec. 1.
“Food storage orders help reduce adverse human-wildlife encounters with bears and other species,” said Josh Hemenway, Custer Gallatin’s wildlife program manager.
Attractants, including food, scented toiletries, trash and other smelly items, should be kept in a hard-sided vehicle or trailer, in an approved bear-resistant container or hung at least 10 feet from the ground and 4 feet from a tree or pole, according to the release.
The release also advised recreationalists to practice general bear safety as spring approaches by carrying bear spray, traveling in groups, making noise, recreating during daylight hours and watching for signs of bear activity.
A black bear cub was spotted in Victor, Idaho, in late February, suggesting that Western bears are beginning to exit their winter dens, according to reporting from Buckrail.
Idaho Fish and Game reported in a Feb. 23 press release that the one-year-old cub was shot with a sedative dart and did not survive the anesthesia. Poor physical health and emaciation was cited for the bear’s inability to recover.