Prevent Conflicts With Bears

By BRUCE AUCHLY for Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

Here are some tips from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks that will help in preparing for bear-safe outings this summer.

When recreating in bear country:

  • Inquire about recent bear activity in the area.
  • Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Travel in groups of three or more during daylight hours.
  • Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
  • Keep children close.
  • Talk, sing, carry a bell or use other means to make your presence known, especially stream side or in thick forest with low visibility.
  • Be especially cautious in areas where berry patches or other natural foods could attract bears.
  • Don’t approach a bear; respect their space and move off.
A Grizzly sow and her cub. Photo by Done Debold.

A Grizzly sow and her cub. Photo by Done Debold.

When camping in bear country:

  • Camp away from trails and areas where you see bear sign.
  • Keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of odors.
  • Avoid cooking smelly foods.
  • Hang all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, or store in a bear-proof container, or within a portable electric fence. Livestock feed should be stored in the same way.
  • Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking or eating.

For more on recreating in bear country, go to the FWP website at and click Living With Wildlife and Be Bear Aware.