Seeing a grizzly bear can be a memorable experience, yet it can also be a dangerous one without proper precautions. We need the help of the public to keep bears wild and people safe. Approaching, disturbing, feeding, or unethically viewing grizzly bears is likely to have negative and dangerous outcomes for both bears and people. We remind visitors and residents in bear country to remain vigilant in grizzly bear country. Most grizzly bear conflicts can be avoided by practicing the basic bear safety guidelines. Approaching, feeding, or otherwise disturbing grizzly bears not only poses a significant threat to humans and bear safety – these behaviors are also a federal offense under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured attractants, such as garbage and human food. Protect yourself and bears by staying alert and following these guidelines:
- Never approach bears, always remain at least 100 yards (300 feet) away, or about the length of a football field
- Practice ethical wildlife viewing by remaining a safe distance and never disturbing natural behaviors
- Never feed, leave food for, or make food accessible to bears
- Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in locked hard-sided vehicles or bear-resistant storage boxes
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it is accessible
- Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails and make noise
- Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night
- Do not run if you encounter a bear
- Instead of traditional bird feeders, set up birdhouses or birdbaths, plant native flowers, or set up hanging flower baskets for hummingbirds
- Keep chickens and other small livestock properly secured using electric fencing or keep them inside a closed shed with a door
- Report bear sightings, encounters, and conflicts immediately to your state or tribal wildlife management agency
Additional grizzly bear safety information is available from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
This Blackfoot Challenge video showcases evolving technology to reduce conflicts with grizzly bears, produced by Rob Green and with support from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.