This past weekend was a reminder to always be prepared when in bear country, no matter the time of year. On Sunday, a hiker in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem ran across a small black bear that had ventured out from his hibernation spot.

It is not uncommon for a bear to come out of their dens and roam around in the dead of winter, especially when the weather is warm. According to the National Park Service, most bears make their dens in logs, hollow trees, or under the root mass of a fallen tree. They have also been found to use rock crevices and in warmer climates sometimes.

The hiker posted about their encounter in the Facebook forum Hiking Bozeman, where someone commented that they too had run into a bear last weekend about 14 miles north of West Yellowstone.

Typically, bears in Yellowstone National Park don't begin stirring from their winter's rest until March. Last year the first bear was spotted on March 7th. This is a great reminder that whenever you're outdoors where bears live, even in the dead of winter, you should always carry bear spray with you. Never assume there are no bears in the area in bear country.

The NPS suggests the following when encountering a bear:

  1. Identify yourself by talking calmly to let the bear know you're a human and not a prey animal.
  2. Always stay calm.
  3. Pick up small children immediately.
  4. When in bear country it's always best to hike in groups.

For more complete bear encounter tips visit NPS.gov.

Yellowstone National Park September 2020