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Be bear aware when recreating outdoors

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News from Montana FWP

MONTANA — As winter gives way to spring, recreationists are taking advantage of the warmer weather to get outside. However, this is also the time of year bears are emerging from their dens and conflicts with people tend to increase.

Bears can be found throughout Montana. In recent years, grizzly bear populations have expanded.

As bears begin foraging for food, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking residents to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders, and pet food. The most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured food attractants.

People venturing into the outdoors should “Be Bear Aware” by following these precautionary steps:

- Carry and know how to use bear spray.

- Travel in groups whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours.

- Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.

- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.

- Make noise, especially near streams or in thick forest where hearing and visibility is impaired. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.

- Don’t approach a bear.

If you are camping in bear country, follow these guidelines:

- Camp away from areas where you see grizzly signs.

- Keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents free of food and attractants.

- Follow all food storage regulations. Contact the applicable land management agency to learn what food storage rules apply where you’re recreating. Hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, or store in a bear-resistant container. Livestock feed attracts bears and should be treated the same as human food.

Anglers also need to practice safe behavior in bear country:

- Don’t leave fish entrails on shorelines of lakes and streams.

- Sink entrails in deep water.

- If you don’t properly dispose of entrails, you increase danger to yourself and to the next person to use the area.

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