Yellowstone National Park announced on Tuesday that a Wildlife Biologist with the park observed the first grizzly bear of 2023 waking up from its hibernation.

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That's according to a press release from the park, which stated that the adult bear, estimated to be between 300-350 pounds, was seen close to the remains of a bison carcass in Pelican Valley. That's towards the central-eastern section of the park.

"Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March," the release stated. "Females with cubs emerge in April and early May. When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses."

Yellowstone National Park is designated bear country. All throughout the park, from the backcountry to Old Faithful. It is their park, their turf, their world. Which means humans are just visiting. Because of this, the park shared a few guidelines, once again, to ensure that humans do not get involved with grizzlies.

    • Prepare for a bear encounter.
    • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
    • Stay alert.
    • 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.
    • Stay 100 yards (91 m) away from black and grizzly bears. Approaching bears within 100 yards is prohibited. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
    • Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
    • Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
    • Learn more about bear safety.

“Spring visitors skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in Yellowstone National Park are reminded to carry bear spray and be especially alert for bears near carcasses and areas with early spring green-up. These are the first foods sought out by grizzlies after emerging from hibernations,” said Kerry Gunther, the park's bear management biologist.

The release noted that bear spray has been proven effective when it comes to deterring bears who are defending their cubs or food sources. It also reduces the number of bears that are killed by people in self-defense.

The park was quick to remind visitors that while firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by a visitor is a strict violation of park regulations.

Yellowstone National Park does restrict visitor activities in areas where there is a high density of bears, elk, and bison carcasses.

Now that the grizzlies have awoken, restrictions will begin in some bear management areas beginning March 10.

Coincidentally, the first bear sighting of 2022 also occurred on March 7.

For more information, you can visit the Yellowstone National Park website. 

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