Yellowstone’s First Grizzly Bear Of 2021 Spotted

Joshua J. Cotten / UnSplash

On Saturday, March 13th, the first grizzly bear of 2021 was spotted in Yellowstone National Park by a pilot flying over to assist with wildlife studies.

The pilot reported that he saw the bear in the northern part of the park interacting with wolves that had surrounded a carcass and were feeding on it.

According to wildlife experts, bears have been in hibernation all winter and are just now coming out of their dens to look for food. Male grizzly bears typically come out of hibernation in early March while female grizzly bears with cubs end up crawling out of their dens in April or early May.

The first spotting of a grizzly bear last year (2020) was on March 7th. Officials warn to be cautious in the park during this time because they can get aggressive competing for food or feeding on a carcass.

“When bears first emerge from hibernation, they look for carcasses at lower elevations and spring vegetation in thermal meadows and south-facing slopes or nourishment,” Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist told Buck Rail.

Here’s how to prepare for bear country:

  • First and foremost, carry bear spray and know how to use it, and make sure it’s easily accessible.
  • Second, always stay alert of your surroundings and keep your head on a swivel to spot wildlife if it approaches you.
  • Thirdly, it’s best to stay in groups of three or more people, make noise when hiking, and stay on the trails. It’s also wise to avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, and night.

Here’s what to do if you encounter a bear:

  • Do not run from a grizzly bear because that may trigger it into chasing you.
  • If it runs at you, stand your ground because you can’t outrun it.
  • Avoid making direct eye contact with the animal.
  • If the bear is not walking towards you, slowly walk away from it.
  • If you have pepper spray, get it ready to use in case the bear charges at you.
  • If it charges at you and it’s within 25 feet, use the bear spray.
  • If you get attacked, do your best to roll into a ball or lay flat on your stomach.
  • Say as calm and quiet as possible until the attack ends.
  • Make sure the bear has left before getting up to look for help.

Learn more by watching a video below on what to do if you encounter a bear.