Bear Signs

Cody Grizzly bears are down near people in the Shoshone National Forest, and they are leaving signs that they are nearby. Hunters, hikers and anglers should be reading those signs to stay safe.

While the sun is setting, cars stream by the volcanic rock walls in the Shoshone National Forest between Yellowstone and Cody. The drivers don’t seem to notice the large dark pile of poop on the roadside….the sign that grizzly bears have been eating chokecherries nearby.

Shoshone National Forest Wildlife Biologist Andy Pils explained, “Bear scat with obvious food sources like berries or meat in them could indicate a concentrated food source with one or more bears in the very near area.”

Pils said there are other signs people should pay attention to: like the smell of something dead.

He remarked, “Bears are highly attracted to dead animals and will defend those carcasses pretty aggressively.”

Why? Because the bears are loading up on calories to survive months of hibernation.

Grizzly bears leave track signs, too.

The Shoshone National Forest, in partnership with the Center of the West, teaches people how to read grizzly signs, and how to react if they encounter a grizzly. The programs take place in the Draper
Natural History Museum.

Center Educator Emily Buckles explained, “Bears are one of the biggest draws to this area and it’s our obligation to help people understand more about them so they can be safe while they’re out exploring this beautiful place that we have.”

But, it’s not just visitors and anglers who encounter bears this time of year. Last fall, two hunters were injured and several grizzlies were killed in northwest Wyoming.

Bearwise Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Dusty Lasseter commented,
“I would just advise hunters to be prepared, carry bear spray or firearm to protect themselves, and if they harvest and animal they need to get it out of the field as quickly as possible.”

Lasseter said Wyoming’s grizzlies depend on the hundreds of tons of gut piles hunters leave on the ground…and head toward the smell as soon as they catch it with their powerful noses.