Bears appear to be newly out of winter hibernation; therefore, local residents of Jackson Hole Wyoming and park visitors are cautioned to be alert for their presence throughout all areas of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Recent sightings of bears or their tracks reveal that they are currently wandering locations from Huckleberry Hill in the Rockefeller Parkway to Pilgrim Creek near Jackson Lake Lodge. Bears may soon visit the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River and the park’s east boundary with Bridger-Teton National Forest, and developed areas at Flagg Ranch, Colter Bay, Beaver Creek and Kelly, Wyoming.
When bears leave their winter dens, they search for any food source that will help restore fat reserves lost during hibernation. Winter-killed animals provide immediate sources of protein, and hungry bears will strongly defend this and other food sources against perceived threats. Carcasses and freshly killed animals should serve as a point of caution-a red flag to make a detour away from the area. As snow banks recede, bears also dig up wildflower bulbs and burrowing rodents.
Adult male bears usually emerge from hibernation by mid to late March, followed by females without cubs. Female bears accompanied by cubs emerge later in the spring and are extremely protective of their young.
Park visitors are reminded to never approach a bear under any circumstances. This is particularly important for situations involving a bear near a carcass and other food sources, or a female bear with her cubs.
With the increased activity of bears, appropriate precautions must be taken. Visitors are advised to carry bear spray, keep it easily accessible and know how to properly handle it. Backcountry hikers should exercise good judgment, stay alert, and follow these recommended safety precautions: make noise, travel in a group of three or more, and maintain a 100-yard distance from bears at all times.
Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible. Timely reporting will help to keep bears away from unnatural food sources and allow park staff to provide important safety messages to visitors about bear activity.
Access to human food and garbage usually leads to food-conditioned bears. When bears lose their fear of humans, they often become a nuisance and a safety concern. Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage and other odorous items unavailable to bears at all times by storing attractants inside vehicles, by disposing of garbage in a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster, and by keeping personal items-such as backpacks or drink containers-with them at all times, especially when they contain food.