HELENA – Most of Montana’s 76 Wildlife Management Areas open at noon on May 15. The long winter and heavy snowpack have left a limited area for wildlife to forage. With grizzly bear activity increasing, people visiting WMAs should remain vigilant and practice techniques to avoid surprise encounters.
Bears, elk and shed-antler hunters will be sharing the same space. Most animals see, hear and smell humans long before humans detect the presence of animals. Depending on the distance between the animals and humans, the animals decide whether to stay, defend themselves or flee.
People venturing into the outdoors should “Be Bear Aware” by following these precautionary steps:
- Carry and know how to use bear spray.
- Travel in groups whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours.
- Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.
- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
- Make noise, especially near streams or in thick forest where hearing and visibility is impaired. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Don’t approach a bear.
For more information on recreating in Montana’s bear country, visit the FWP Bear Aware website at fwp.mt.gov/be-bear-aware.
For more information about WMAs, visit fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/wma/.