HELENA – Over the weekend a black bear was spotted at the lower 2006 Trail at Mount Ascension Park and officials are advising people to take extra caution when enjoying Montana’s outdoors this fall.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks(FWP) say it is more likely to for people to have bear encounters during this time of the year because the animals are going into hyperphagia.
Hyperphagia is a part of the hibernation cycle where a bear needs to drink and eat continuously to fatten for winter.
Bears generally prefer to avoid humans but during this time of year they are very active.
Driven by food, a bear can eat 20,000 calories of food each day.
FWP education manager Laurie Wolf cautions that bears may not be as alert or wary of humans during the fall.
“It’s really important to be making lots more noise, be alert, looking for bear activity, bear signs and then also carrying bear spray,” said Wolf.
According to the Center For Wildlife Information in Missoula, bear spray is more effective an a bullet in diverting or stopping a charging bear.
Wolf added that because the wilderness is so close to town it’s always a good idea to be prepared for a bear encounter when hiking, especially if previous bear sightings have been reported.
FWP also recommends people living near wilderness areas to ensure that they do not leave bear attractors, like pet food, outside for long periods.
For more information about what to do during a bear encounter visit here.