As hikers and campers return to their favorite national parks, Grand Teton park officials remind us that springtime is when the area’s bears begin to emerge from their winter dens.
According to Wyoming’s Fish & Game department, there are roughly 700 grizzly bears and between 500 and 650 black bears in Grand Teton National Park. That’s approximately 1,200 bears that are slowly emerging from their dens in search of food. After a long season underground, there’s no doubt these Grand Teton residents will be more willing to travel longer distances to campgrounds and neighborhoods for a quick meal.
Trash cans, outdoor grills and any camping waste will be prime choices, so in order to keep bears at a safe distance for both species, park officials have advised residents and visitors of the area to take extra care in securing their attractants – meaning anything that has a scent.
Grand Teton National Park Provides Tips for Evading Bears as They Emerge This Spring
“Properly storing all attractants to ensure a bear does not obtain a food reward is crucial to keeping bears wild,” the park shared in an official release. “Once a bear becomes conditioned to human foods, risks to the bear and humans increase and management options become limited. Whether you have lived in Teton County for decades or are visiting the area for a day, please do your part to help protect bears,” the national park urged.
If you think you’re far enough away from bear territory to evade this warning, consider the fact that grizzly bears’ sense of smell is at least 2,100 times better than a human’s. Likewise, black bears can pick up a scent from over a mile away. So, even if you’re not directly next to the woods, it’s still a good idea to store your trash cans in the garage for a few weeks. Meanwhile, for campers, park staff advised visitors to “store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, and pet food, inside a bear box or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.”
Read all of Grand Teton National Park’s tips for keeping bears at bay here.
Park Staff Reminds Public That Bears Aren’t the Only Scavenging Wildlife
Bears aren’t the only scavengers that like to visit campgrounds and residential trash cans. Recently, the national park shared a photo of a red fox with a Pringles potato chip can in its mouth. As funny as the photo may seem, the park explained that this behavior can lead to some dangerous trends for both animals and humans.
“Although it may be slightly amusing to see a fox carrying around a can of Pringles, the sad truth is that the fox in the photo may be removed (euthanized) if s/he continues to pursue human food,” Grand Teton park staff explained.
“Food-conditioned animals are wild animals that have become used to and attracted to human food either from being fed directly or accessing unsecured human food and/or trash,” the post continued. “Food-conditioned animals actively seek out human food and can become dangerous, as they may bite people and expose humans to diseases, such as rabies. If an animal becomes aggressive, it may have to be killed.”