Montana’s Hibernating Grizzly Bears Will Soon Be Stirring

By Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

A Grizzly sow and her cub. Photo by Don DeBold.

Adult males usually emerge first from winter dens in mid-March. When bears emerge from their dens they are physically depleted and food is a priority. They focus on finding and eating carrion, like winter-killed elk and deer, for a quick boost of energy.

Grizzlies are often tempted to go where black bear, raccoons and domestic dogs are getting into garbage. If these species are already causing problems near-by, consider it an early warning that food attractants are available and need to be removed. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ bear experts stress that conflict prevention steps can greatly reduce the chances of attracting a grizzly bear.

FWP recommends bear resistant bins in communities and on ranches; electric fence systems to protect bee yards and sheep bedding grounds; random redistribution of livestock carcasses each spring; and educational programs in schools and communities.

Nine times out of ten, bears that repeatedly get into attractants around our homes are eventually euthanized. Please help save Montana bears from this needless outcome by learning some tips to help keep your residence bear-friendly.

  • Do not put out salt licks, grain, or deer blocks to attract wild animals as these create areas of concentrated animal scent that will then draw in bears and mountain lions.
  • Use native plant landscaping whenever possible. Be aware that a watered lawn with lush grass, clover, and dandelions is an attractive feeding site for bears.
  • Close all windows when not at home or when cooking.
  • Talk to your children about bears and how to avoid them.
  • Have a plan in case a bear comes inside your home and keep bear pepper spray handy. Give a bear that is in your home an escape route by propping all doors open with something heavy that will act as a doorstop.
  • Never approach a bear in your yard, always give bears an escape route and never crowd or harass a bear.

Learn about bear attractants, how to tell if your residence is bear-friendly, and some bear-aware tools to help keep bears wild.

Don’t Feed Bears! It is unlawful to intentionally, or to inadvertently feed bears. Those who do will be warned and possibly cited under this important  Montana Law.

If You Care, Leave Them There!  Sometimes people find young bears and other species and think they are abandoned or orphaned. This is often not true. If you care, leave them there. [Learn more]

FWP’s Be Bear Aware website at is an easy way for homeowners and landowners to assess what they need to do now to prevent bear conflicts. Go there for tips and tools on obtaining and using bear spray, safe camping and hiking, access to bear resistant produce and a guide to the many food-related and other items that attract bears to a property.