bears may be habituated to humans and not as wary as other bears. All grizzly
bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem are listed as threatened under the
Endangered Species Act and protected by federal law.
shows that grizzly bears seek out gut piles during the hunting season. During
Refuge hunting seasons, the availability of carcasses and gut piles may bring
grizzly bears and hunters into close proximity in heavily–used hunt areas. Some
bears will vigorously defend gut piles. This behavior should be expected in
bear country, and it underscores the risk to bears and humans associated with
hunting in grizzly country.
keep in mind that you may encounter bears – including those feeding on gut
piles – at any time and in any location. Be alert for the presence of bears at all times! Do not leave a carcass unattended, and be
extra alert when field dressing your elk or bison.
Research has shown that bear spray is a highly effective deterrent during an encounter with a bear. In a Journal of Wildlife Management publication by Smith, et al.1, bear spray was found to stop bears’ undesirable behavior 90–100% of the time. Personal defense pepper spray is not the same as bear spray. Bear spray labels will clearly state it is for stopping charging or attacking bears. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates bear spray, and the minimum size can the EPA will register is currently 7.9 ounces. Carrying an accessible can of non–expired bear spray is not a requirement of your Refuge hunting permit but is highly recommended.
For your safety and the safety of bears, a list of suggested practices is available for participating in Refuge bison and elk hunting seasons. (PDF)
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Elk aren't the only species of wildlife you may see on the National Elk Refuge.