JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI) – Bears across Jackson Hole are emerging from their winter dens.

The first routine grizzly bear sightings of 2024 in Jackson Hole began March 21 on the Bridger-Teton National Forest followed by Grand Teton National Park’s first bear sighting on March 26. The frequency of bear sightings has since increased as the winter snowpack disappears. As bears become active this spring, Bear Wise Jackson Hole partners remind residents and visitors to secure attractants of any kind and be bear aware.

Adult male grizzly bears typically emerge from hibernation in March, while females with young typically appear between April and early May. When bears emerge from their dens, they search for available foods and often scavenge animals that died during the winter.

Seeing a bear in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience; however, living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part to keep bears wild and people safe. As the grizzly bear population expanded within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears dispersed across their historical range but also into more populated areas. All of Teton County is now in occupied grizzly bear habitat.

Bears can be attracted to anything associated with human or animal food items, including coolers, cooking gear, bird feeders, and pet dishes, when they are easily accessible. By properly storing these attractants, you help to ensure that a bear does not obtain a food reward. Once a bear becomes conditioned to human foods, the bear is likely to exhibit increasingly bold behavior, which increases risks to the bear and humans and limits management options. Whether you have lived in Teton County for decades or are visiting for a day, please do your part to help prevent human-bear conflicts.

If you are a resident:

  • Please look around your yard for any unsecured attractants.
  • Store all garbage in bear-resistant containers or in a secure building.
  • Secure livestock feed, chicken coops, pet food, compost, and beehives. Electric fences are effective for securing many of these types of attractants.
  • Hang birdfeeders in a way that makes them inaccessible to bears.
  • Help your neighbors create a bear-wise community to protect bears and other wildlife.

If you are visiting public lands, such as a national park or national forest:

  • Never leave your food unattended unless it is properly secured.
  • Keep a clean camp and adhere to all food storage orders. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, pet food, and toiletries, inside a bear-resistant food locker (i.e. bear box) or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Properly store garbage until you can deposit it into a bear-resistant dumpster.
  • Do not eat or cook in your tent, and never keep food or other scented items in your tent.
  • Please respect all wildlife closure areas.
  • If you see a bear, please give it space. Always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear, use a spotting scope, binoculars, or telephoto lens. Park in designated areas, and never block travel lanes. Follow the directions of staff in places where bears are sighted.

If you are exploring the backcountry:

  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Make noise, especially in areas with limited visibility or when sound is muffled (e.g., near streams or when it is windy).
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
  • Hike in groups of three or more people.
  • Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.