A week after being spotted out of their dens for the first time this year in Yellowstone National Park, grizzly bears are out and about in Jackson Hole.
A report of a bruin that had called hibernation quits by Friday near Steamboat Mountain came from a reliable source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department warden Kyle Lash, who was on the drive back from checking ice fishermen at Grassy Lake. On social media, he shared a photo of a bear wading through deep snow in the fire scar from the Berry Creek Fire near Grand Teton National Park’s boundary at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway.
The sighting is a reminder that residents and visitors can expect to see grizzly and black bears now through the onset of next winter and need to be prepared for an encounter even in areas with deep snow.
In March 2001, a Jackson Hole resident was injured by a grizzly bear while backcountry skiing near Berry Creek.
Although the northern parts of Jackson Hole have traditionally been considered grizzly turf, indications are that bears are fanning out and can be found just about anywhere — including places like the Nelson Drive trailhead at the town of Jackson’s boundary.
“We got a call from a woman last May who saw a bear not far from the trailhead,” Bridger-Teton National Forest resource manager Linda Merigliano said last week. “Sure enough, it was a grizzly track. It had just moved through the area.
“We’ve never had a conflict,” she said, “but it shows the potential for conflict right on the edge of Jackson.”
Park officials documented the first grizzly sighting in Yellowstone this year March 8 in the area between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge. Lash’s sighting came precisely one week later. Solitary sows and then sows with cubs typically emerge later in the spring, in April to early May.
Best practices for safely spending time in grizzly habitat include carrying bear spray, remaining alert, hiking or skiing in groups of three or more, and keeping at least 100 yards between yourself and any bear.