HELENA — The weather this time of year is a bear.
In this week's WeatherWise, as the temperatures cool and the snow begins to fall, the changes signal bears to enter a phase of mass consumption which can often lead to close encounters with people.
This time of year bears are in a stage called hyperphagia and will spend up to twenty hours a day trying to eat more than 20,000 calories to fatten up for winter.
As bears prepare for hibernation and hunt for food, bear activity increases closer to homes.
A black bear near the town of Unionville has gotten into the garbage, entered chicken coups, walked onto decks, swiped bird feeders, and even taken coffee beans out of a mailbox.
In Marysville, a grizzly bear has been spotted by locals numerous times, recently walking through yards and down streets, even covering a recent elk predation.
General hunting season begins soon and there's nothing a bear would like more than a gut pile.
Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to accessible human food, trash, fruit trees, and other attractants with strong odors.
A bear's natural drive to eat can overcome its fear of humans.
Bears can become too comfortable around humans, destroy property and even be a threat to human safety. This is also how a bear would end up having to be euthanized.
This is a short time of year when taking precautions could limit possible human-bear interaction before they are all hibernating.
Except for that bear that ate the coffee beans. That bear will be wired until March.
And now you're a little more WeatherWise.