How To Manage Road Side Bears

Jun 6, 2019
Originally published on June 6, 2019 7:43 am

This time of year in bear country you're more likely to see the animal along the sides of the roads looking for the first shoots of grass. That's a hazard for the bear and for visitors, and wildlife managers resorting to what they call hazing.

Hazing a bear is essentially scaring it away. Rangers only do this with bears that seem aggressive. Signs of an aggressive bear include when they're clicking their jaws, frothing at the mouth or swaying their heads back and forth. Rangers will drive their vehicle towards the bear, sound their horn or clap and yell so it moves away.

Eric Reinertson, a bear manager at Yellowstone National Park, said it's important to stay 100 yards from any bear, aggressive or not, and never feed them.

"Anytime a bear gets food, it's a bad sign because they get conditioned to that," said Reinerston. "They get aggressive and you just don't ever want to get that opportunity."

Reinertson said if a bear does get aggressive though, hazing can condition them to change that behavior.

He said he wants people to be able to see bears but it needs to be managed correctly.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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