Feb 10th, 2015
Yellowstone National Park is letting visitors and locals in the region that grizzlies are waking up earlier than normal this year. The first bear sighting in the park is always reported by the park service, but this year, the timing came much earlier than normal.
Traditionally, the first bear sighting of the year typical comes in the first few weeks in March. The dry winter has led to the first grizzly emerging “earlier than in recent years,” according to park officials. While the southern 2/3rds of park are doing well in snow accumulations, the northwest 1/3rd of park has received lighter than average snowfall. With a large number of unreasonably warm weather days, which broke records for the region, only patches around in shaded areas at 6,300 feet in elevation around the NW areas. There is snow higher up in the mountains, but not as much as in previous years, as proven by the lower river levels in the northwest section of the park.
Active bears earlier in the year increase the potential for unexpected bear encounters, promptly Yellowstone Park officials to give a reminder to those who live or are visiting the area to start being bear aware while in the wilderness. Carrying bear spray, making extra noise, hiking in groups, etc, should be second nature in the summer months, and thanks to an early spring, now need to be followed.
Bear attacks in Yellowstone are quite rare, with an average of just one bear incident per year. In 2014, Yellowstone National Park saw 3,513,484 visitors, with just one bear incident, according to park officials. The park has to be happy with these low odds.
“Wildlife viewing has always been an important draw to visitors to Yellowstone.” Al Nash of Yellowstone National Park explained, “We work diligently to share our wildlife safety message with visitors. We believe our efforts really do make a difference.”
The numbers speak for themselves. Yellowstone is one of the most-visited National Parks in America, a destination for millions from every corner of the globe. Yet, the numbers of incidents with wildlife is in the decline, thanks to programs focusing on education. By embracing the breadths of the Park Service’s many responsibilities, Yellowstone’s level of educational information on all aspects of the park makes it a sought out destination.
The grizzlies of Yellowstone are now active, and it is time we all remember to be bear aware. If you are heading out into wilds of America’s First National Park, or any wilderness known to have bears, please be prepared. While your odds may be low, it is always better to be safe than sorry, for you and the bear’s safety.